Back Pain and the Workplace

Back pain is particularly common in adults who are of a working age. Some back pain was caused or made worse by work. About 13% of the unemployed people cite back pain as the reason they are without a job.

Which Jobs are Most Often Associated With Back Pain?

Back pain can arise in many work situations, but certain occupations carry a greater risk then others. These include:

  • Heavy manual labouring
  • Heavy equipment operating
  • Nursing
  • Delivery work
  • Removal work
  • Manual packing of goods
  • Office work involving sitting at a computer station

In general, jobs that involve heavy lifting, handling bulky loads in awkward places, handling vibrating equipment like pneumatic drills or driving long distances over rough ground, can all make back pain worse. Office jobs can also aggravate back pain. Spending all day sitting at a badly adjusted workstation performing a repetitive task like typing or answering the phone, can make the problem worse. A number of exercises can be performed whilst you sit at your desk, which can minimise the chances of suffering from back pain.

Work-Related Tasks That Can Aggravate Back Pain

Back Aggravator

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Lifting awkward or bulky objects
  • Repetitive actions
  • Stretching, twisting, reaching
  • Cold temperatures
  • Vibrationi
  • Sitting uncomfortably

Workers at High Risk

  • Factory workers
  • Removal men, nurses
  • Typists, telephonists
  • Mechanics
  • Fishermen
  • Driller
  • Train or bus drivers, supermarket cashiers

10 Ways to Make Your Office More Ergonomically Friendly

  1. Make sure you’re not stretching for your keyboard and your neck is not bent.
  2. Use foot rests and wrist rests if you need to.
  3. Keep our feet at right angles to your lower legs.
  4. Get your eyes checked regularly so that you are not leaning forward to read your computer screen.
  5. Make sure your chair is comfortable and can be adjusted.
  6. If possible choose a desk that can be adjusted to the right height for you.
  7. Keep your mouse next to and on the same level as our keyboard.
  8. Position your keyboard in front of the direction you look to the monitor, not off to the side.
  9. Use a telephone headset if you are on the phone constantly.
  10. Try not to sit in the same position all day long.

Call +65 6471 2674 (24 hrs) to see our spine specialist for your back pain today.

Our fondness for driving goes hand-in-hand with our tendency to shy away from exercise. Often, we will hop in the car, rather than walk down to the shops or to school or work. Whilst this may save us time, in the long term it may also increase our chances of developing back problems and other health problems  It is well known that people who lead active lifestyles are less likely to die early, or to experience major illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.

Unfortunately for some people, spending long periods of time sitting in a car is unavoidable (e.g. taxi drivers, bus drivers, salespeople). The constant vibration of the wheels on the road, hunching over or gripping the steering wheel, sitting in the same position and stretching to depress the clutch or see out of the mirror, all take their toll on your back. It;s not just the driver who can stiffen up in a car either – passengers are often seated for long periods of time in a fixed position.

If you do spend a lot of time in your car, there are a number of things you can try to make yourself more comfortable:

  • bring your seat forward so that you can depress the clutch without having to stretch
  • adjust your mirrors properly
  • take regular breaks, ideally once an hour
  • try to avoid twisting when getting into or out of the car
  • keep a small cushion in the car to support your lower back
  • choose a car that is suited to your needs.

Choosing the Right Car

The Praying Test – Place both hands together, pointing forwards. You should be pointing straight at the centre of the steering wheel.

The First Test – Make a fist with your left hand, keeping the thumb to the side of the index finger. If you have sufficient headroom then it should be possible to insert the fist on the crown of the head.

The Right Leg Test – After driving the car for a short while, look down and examine the position of your right leg. Your right foot should still be roughly in line with your right thigh.

The Kerb Height Test – Swing your right leg out of the car as though you are getting out, and place your right foot on the ground. The surface of your right thigh should be sloping downwards (not upwards) towards your right knee.

These tests should only be performed then the are is stationary and carefully parked.

Call +65 6471 2674 (24 hr) to make an appointment to see our spine specialist to treat your back pain today.

Running Technique

A good running technique teaches you the best way to run in order to minimise the risk of injury and improve running efficiency.

Every runner has his or her own unique style, and there are no rigid rules that you must follow. But there are guidelines you can follow that will improve your running style.

A good running technique helps with the following.

  • Economical running. Having a good running technique can make running more energy-efficient by minimising unnecessary movement. You want all your energy to produce straight ahead movement, not a side-to-side motion.
  • Minimising the chance of injury. When you run, your forward foot hits the ground with a force greater than your body weight. Using the correct running technique and appropriate footwear can help to reduce the landing force and therefore the stress on your bones and muscles, minimising the chance of injury.
Running Technique
Running Technique

Correct running technique

The most important concept is to “run tall” – keep a good upright posture when running – and stay relaxed. Consider the following points when assessing your running technique.

  •  Head
    • Hold your chin up, with your eyes focused forward to a point on the ground about 20 to 30 metres away. Imagine a string tied to the top of your head pulling your body upwards.
  • Shoulders
    • Your shoulders should be square and level. Don’t round your shoulders or swing them forwards or backwards.
  • Arms
    • Keep your elbows bent at approximately 90 degrees (right angles), keeping your forearms roughly parallel to the ground. Your arms should swing freely in a general forwards/backwards motion not a circle or a straight line.
  • Hands
    • Hold your hands in a relaxed fist with the thumb resting on the forefinger.
  • Torso
    • Your torso should be straight, with your chest up and plenty of room for proper breathing. Don’t lean forwards, backwards or slouch, as these postures can interfere with your running mechanics and possibly cause a lower back injury.
  • Hips
    • Keep your hips facing forward with no sideways movement and hold them level horizontally.
  • Legs
    • Your leg action should be relaxed and feel natural.
  • Feet
    • Feet should point straight ahead and land directly under your hips.