Environmental Health & Safety > Ergonomics > Back Safety > Why Back Pain Happens
Using improper lifting techniques can lead to back injuries, but other factors can contribute to this age-old problem.
Whether you’re standing, sitting, or reclining, your posture affects your back. Awkward postures increase strain on back muscles and can bend the spine into positions that can put pressure on discs and cause trouble. When awkward postures are prolonged or repetitive, the risk of injury is greater.
When standing correctly, the spine has a natural “S” curve. Your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should be aligned with your spine in this natural “S” curve.
When you sit using proper posture, your hips should be equal to or slightly higher than your knees. Sit with your hips pushed against the back of the chair so that the backrest supports your back.
Sleeping posture is as important as standing and sitting postures. Try to sleep on your side with your knees bent or on your back. Sleeping on your stomach can strain your spine and cause morning backache.
Poor Physical Condition
Your physical condition can lead to back pain. If you are overweight, especially if you have a pot-belly, extra strain is placed on your spine. Every pound up front puts 10 pounds of strain on your back.
When you are out of shape, the chances for chronic back pain are greater. Infrequent exercise can also lead to trouble. Sudden strains on unconditioned back muscles can cause injury, especially when there is sudden twisting or turning of the back. Proper diet and exercise can both help to avoid back problems.
Stress is another factor that can lead to back pain. Stress at work or home can cause tension in muscles leading to tightness and muscle spasms. Although stress is part of everyone’s life, excessive stress may cause backache. The solution is to a balanced lifestyle with time to relax.
Most people think back injuries result from lifting heavy or awkward objects. Many back injuries, however, do not come from a single lift. They result from relatively minor strains that occur repeatedly over time. As you repeat irritating movements, minor injuries begin to accumulate and weaken affected muscles or ligaments. Eventually, the small injuries add up and a more serious injury can result.
It is important to remember that a specific lift may have little to do with any single injury. Remember to use mechanical aids along with good lifting technique to do any lifting whenever possible. And always ask for help if you need it.