Editor’s Note: Injury prevention and wellness handouts are an effective (and inexpensive) way to educate and motivate workplace athletes to use good work practices and take care of their bodies.
Scroll to the bottom of this post for the free Wellness Handout PDF file.
If you have ever experienced lower back fatigue or discomfort, you are not alone. Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that interferes with work, routine daily activities, or recreation.
Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the US, only headache is more common. Most lower back injuries are mechanical in nature, the result of acute strain or chronic disorders such as degenerative disc disease or arthritis. Acute low back discomfort may be caused by work factors, a sports injury, work around the house, a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other lifestyle factors outlined below.
Fortunately, most occurrences of low back discomfort go away within a matter of days. By far, the best way to manage low back fatigue and discomfort is to PREVENT it in the first place!
Lifestyle Risk Factors of Low Back Injuries
- Dehydration – Healthy muscles are comprised of at least 70% water. Dehydration causes muscle fatigue, strain, tendonitis, and other disorders of the movement system. Soda pop is not water, it’s liquid junk.
- Poor Nutrition – Eating too many “empty” calories that don’t contain the nutrients our body needs is a primary cause of injuries and disorders of the movement system. Tobacco contains toxins that increase inflammation.
- Inflammation – Inflammation causes many lifestyle-related disorders, including heart disease and movement system disorders. Too much sugar and fat within our diet can contribute to inflammation.
- Fatigue – Adequate amounts of rest and sleep are very important ingredients for our health.
- Poor Fitness – Poor levels of physical fitness increases the risk of disease and injury.
Prevention is a shared responsibility! The company is responsible for a safe work environment and procedures, and all workplace athletes are responsible for using their body properly and keeping their body fit for work.
8 Tips for Preventing Lower Back Injuries in the Workplace
Ergonomics – Ergonomics is about working smarter! An ergonomics improvement process is part of management’s commitment to maximize efficiency and to limit worker fatigue and discomfort.
Proper Warm-Up & Body Mechanics – Proper warm-up & body mechanics will reduce daily fatigue and give you more energy left over at the end of the day! We are ALL athletes in life, so we need to warm-up like athletes to improve our performance and to reduce risk of injury. We should also plan to work smarter… not harder! Proper body mechanics should always be used to avoid excessive fatigue and injury.
Drinking plenty of water – Drinking plenty of water is one of the most important things you can do for your health! Healthy muscles are comprised of at least 70% water. Dehydration of the muscles and tendons is a primary cause of muscle fatigue, strain, tendonitis, and other disorders of the movement system. How much water do you need every day? Your Body Weight ÷ 2 = # oz. of water per day (Example: 160 pounds ÷ 2 = 80 oz. of water per day)
Healthy eating – Healthy eating is one of the most important weapons that we have to fight against injury and illness. The foods we choose to eat determine what our bodies look like on the outside and how well our body functions on the inside. Eat fewer “empty” calories from dead foods, and eat more calories from living foods. Living foods include fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Living foods are harvested. Dead foods are processed and not good for you.
Rest and sleep – Adequate amounts of rest and sleep are very important ingredients for our health. When we don’t get enough sleep, increased release of stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in the body. If rest and sleep deficits persist, we become more vulnerable to injuries and chronic diseases. Sleep experts generally agree that most adults require between 6.5-9 hours of sleep each day to maintain optimal health and safety.
Physical Fitness – We need to maintain our physical fitness levels to prevent injuries and illness. There’s a correlation between poor levels of physical fitness and increased risk of disease and injury. The lower the level of fitness, the higher the risk of injury. Four types of exercise for your fitness plan: 1) Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise, 2) strength training, 3) stretching exercise, and 4) relaxation exercise.
Cold Therapy – Workplace athletes can use ice or cold therapy to control fatigue and soreness after activity. Ice application should be between 15 to 20 minutes applied directly onto the skin of the affected area. An initial aching will be felt when the ice is on the skin. After 5 minutes, this should go away as the ice takes effect. Ice is a great anti-inflammatory! Never use heat after activity.
Vitamin & Mineral Supplements – Vitamin & mineral supplements are not a substitute for healthy eating, but they can fill in the gaps and help combat fatigue and inflammation. Experts recommend three daily supplements: 1) a quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, 2) a vitamin D supplement with calcium and magnesium, and 3) omega-3 fatty acids.