Whether you work in an office or warehouse, back pain is a major health concern for workers and is likely to affect 80 percent of adults in Britain during their lifetime.

Here, we provide some tips to help reduce your risk of back pain at  work:

 

What causes back pain?

The exact cause of back pain is not clear, but minor strains, inflammation or pinched nerves account for the majority of cases of back pain. Frequent causes of which are:

  • Twisting or bending awkwardly
  • Not sitting properly in a chair for long periods
  • Overstretching
  • Driving for a long time without stopping for a break
  • Repetitive strain caused by overusing certain muscles (e.g. when playing sport, or carrying out heavy lifting at work)
  • Stress

>>Read more about back pain causes and prevention here

 

Workers at a heightened risk of back pain include:

  • Office workers who sit at computers for long periods
  • Care workers whose work involves a lot of lifting, twisting and driving between appointments 
  • Long distance drivers
  • Manual workers who regularly lift heavy weights, such as builders, agricultural or manufacturing workers
  • Those who spend long periods leaning over to provide treatments such as beauticians and masseuses 
  • Retail workers and security guards who spend long periods standing

 

Regardless of the type of job you have, there’s lots you can do a lot to help reduce the risks of suffering a recurring back problem:

  • Improve your posture: Good posture can reduce the stress on back muscles. Try not to slouch, and try to maintain a neutral pelvic position. 
  • Sit well: Choose a seat with good lower back support and  armrests. Try placing a cushion or rolled towel in the small of your back so it can maintain its normal curve.
  • Avoid heavy lifting, if possible, but if you must lift something heavy, find a lifting partner. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees.
  • Exercise regularly: Walking, swimming and cycling  are all good for building muscle strength around the back. 
  • Losing excess weight: being overweight puts greater pressure on the back.
  • Quit smoking: Smokers have increased rates of back pain. This may occur because  smoking can decrease blood flow to the spine and increase the risk of osteoporosis. Smoking also prompts more coughing, which can lead to a herniated disk.
  • Manage your stress: Stress (whether work-related or personal) can worsen the experience of back pain but relaxation techniques can help.
  • Take regular breaks



Office work

If you work in an office, it’s likely that you spend the majority of your day sitting down. This can lead to stiffness, tension and discomfort to the back.

You can try these simple changes to lessen the strain when working at your desk:

  • Create an ergonomic workspace where you can reach everything you need without straining. Proper office ergonomics also encourages good posture by adjusting the height of desks, chairs and monitors. 
  • Take regular breaks
  • Loosen your muscles by stretching throughout the day


Warehouse work

Working in a warehouse is tough on your whole body, but it’s your back and wrists that feel the brunt of the pain.

Here’s how you can tackle it head on:

  • Loosen your muscles by stretching throughout the day
  • Make sure your employer has given you the training you need, and once they have, practice proper lifting techniques
  • Wear supportive, cushioned shoes
  • Get additional support with a back brace/support belt

 

Retail work

Working in a retail environment is relatively safe, but you may start to notice your back hurting over time. Being on your feet for several hours, lifting heavy objects and making repetitive movements like operating the till or restocking shelves and hangers can result in back pain.

Here are some ways you can reduce back pain at your retail job.

  • Take as many break as you can
  • Wear supportive, cushioned shoes
  • Strengthen your core with exercise can make your job less strenuous on your back