We’ve all heard someone tell us to lift with our knees so we don’t hurt our backs or to go see a chiropractor instead of cracking our backs ourselves. How much do we really know about back safety to back up these statements? Maybe we’re doing things that are much more harmful to our backs every day and we don’t even know it.
There are so many ways to hurt our backs through sports and manual labor, but what about all of the basic mechanical and postural strains that we inflict daily? Pain in your back is a sure sign that something you’re doing is unsafe or unhealthy, whether the cause is physical activity or your resting posture.
Read through these facts about back safety so you can understand just how important it is to be aware of and care for your back.
1. Back Pain Is The #2 Cause Of Doctor Visits
That’s right. The only ailment that sends more patients to doctors is the common cold. Back pain also ranks highly on the reasons for hospitalizations (#5) and surgeries (#3) (source). Maybe your back problems are more common than you think, and maybe those problems are caused by your everyday habits that you never even think about.
2. Sitting In Your Chair Is Causing Pain
Sitting, especially at about a 90° angle, puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing. Leaning back to a 135° angle every so often can help reduce the compression in your spine and alleviate that back pain (source). It may even be time to get a new chair.
This goes for long car rides too—that commute could be compromising your spinal health. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and close to the wheel so you’re not stretching to reach the wheel or pedals for long durations.
3. Your Bag May Be Too Heavy
The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your bag weigh no more than 10% of your body weight. Mine weighs just about 10% between my laptop and its accessories, my full water bottle, my planner, and a few miscellaneous things that I tote with me wherever I go. It definitely shows that I carry my hefty bag on my left shoulder often—there’s a noticeable dip in my shoulder and, at this point, I’m convinced I walk with a slight lean to compensate. To reduce the back and shoulder pain, the ACA recommends alternating shoulders daily and lightening your load as much as you can.
4. Women’s Shoes Harm Their Backs
That’s another strike out for me—I wear high heels nearly every day. Wearing heels forces you to arch your back and use more muscles just to walk, meaning your back is going to be strained and sore after a long day. Save your feet, legs, and back significant pain and risk of injury by keeping a pair of comfy shoes handy for longer walks throughout the day.
5. Workplaces See Roughly 1 Million Back Injuries Yearly
Considering it’s the second leading cause of doctor visits, it’s no surprise that back injuries would be found so commonly in the workplace. Back injuries account for one in every five injuries and illnesses in the workplace across all industries (source).
6. Six Occupations Account For 25% Of Ergonomic Injuries
These 6 jobs report highest numbers of ergonomic injuries, including back pain (source):
Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers
Janitors and Cleaners
Maintenance and Repair Workers
7. Better Designed Workspaces Can Make A Huge Impact
Workplace back injuries could be reduced by up to about 33% with more health-conscious workplace design decisions (source). Providing employees with the means to combat back issues can increase health and productivity on the job. Some examples are standing desks, adjustable chairs, and adequate space for walking and stretching.
8. Yearly Costs Of Back Pain Are Estimated Around $50 Billion
Many adults do not seek out medical attention for back pain, reasoning that it’s just a sign of aging or that an expensive doctor visit isn’t worth what little relief they might find. With such an astounding total in the U.S. (source), it’s imperative that employers do what they can to help educate employees and try to prevent back injuries before they might occur.
Health-conscious workplaces are becoming increasingly popular, and now is the time to hop on that bandwagon. Create a workforce of healthy employees by beginning with the most basic ergonomic decisions at work. Back safety is one of the most important health lessons to share because of its potentially devastating effects.
Check out our quick lessons on office ergonomics to get your employees started on the path to back safety and other important on-the-job health decisions.