Manual Labor and Your Back
By Krista Elliott
A lot of discussion is held around poor posture and back pain for office workers and other professionals. But what if your desk is a toolbox, or a tractor? Millions of people have jobs that involve a considerable amount of physical labor. And whether you're hoisting hay bales, bending down to install wiring, or swinging a hammer, your back often pays the price for your livelihood. Muscle strains, subluxations (misalignment of vertebrae), and damaged tendons are only a few of the physical risks associated with physical labor.
A Danger Zone for Your Back
There are a large number of risks to your back associated with physical labor:
- Lifting heavy objects, particularly if improper lifting techniques are used, can result in disc tears, subluxations, acute muscle spasms, and/or long-term muscle strains.
- Standing on hard surfaces, such as concrete, for long periods of time can quickly tire out back and leg muscles, leading to poor posture and an increased risk of injury.
- Wet or slippery surfaces increase the risk of slips or falls, which can cause serious back injury.
- Sitting on a machine with a lot of vibration, such as a tractor, forklift, or backhoe, can contribute to misalignment and muscle fatigue.
- Raising your arms over your head for extended periods, to use hand tools or to hold up a part, can lead to muscle strain and spasms.
Protecting Your Back and Livelihood
Back problems can make your job much less pleasant, and can even result in lost time, or permanent disability. So how to prevent and resolve back issues? A multi-level approach is the best way to keep your back working well and feeling great.
The first step is a comprehensive chiropractic exam. At The Joint Chiropractic, our licensed chiropractors do a complete assessment of your spine and joints, along with a detailed health history, to accurately pinpoint the areas that need adjusting. Adjustments are safe and natural, and help return your spine and joints to optimal alignment, reducing pain and helping to prevent future injuries.
In addition to your chiropractic treatment, it is important to take steps to prevent strains and injury:
- Work boots wear out over time, offering reduced shock absorption. Replace your work boots regularly, and consider insoles or orthotics to improve arch support and shock absorption.
- Proper lifting techniques are vital. Never twist while lifting an item, and remember to lift properly with the strong muscles of the legs, not the back.
- Keep moving. Standing in one spot for too long increases fatigue in the back and leg muscles, leading to compromised posture. Despite what your preschool teachers may have told you, fidgeting is a good thing!
With regular chiropractic care and safe work practices, your back can remain healthy and pain-free for life!