According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, last year 6.4% of the work force or 690,000 people were injured at work. Previous research has shown us that 25% of all injuries occur in just one area, the back.
One of the major causes of back injury is poor lifting technique. Of course not all back problems arise from a sudden event or trauma. In fact one of the most difficult problems is that a significant number of injuries result from the effects of cumulative stress on the back. This is where small amounts of trauma over a period of time gradually build up to become a significant problem.
One theory suggests that repeated small or even unnoticed lifting injuries can give rise to micro-trauma and local inflammation in the ligaments and muscles of the low back. This in turn can interrupt the delicate feedback mechanisms that control small muscle contraction in the spine which in turn leave the area less coordinated and more vulnerable to further injury. Often what are felt as minor aches and pains are ignored until the problems progress and become more severe.
So what can we do about it? Well if you lift heavy objects at work here are some simple rules that might help.
- Keep your back straight, bend your knees and keep weight close to your body when lifting.
- Avoid twisting or reaching when carrying weight, instead move your feet carefully and turn your whole body.
- Reduce the size of load wherever possible (lots of small loads are better than one big one).
- If at all possible use appropriate lifting gear or get some help.
Of course if you do suffer a back injury it’s probably better to tackle it sooner rather than later. Don’t wait for it to become a severe problem before you see your health professional. Treatment of the injured area followed up with rehabilitation including muscle strengthening, flexibility work and work on the stabilising mechanisms in the spine may well help to reduce the risk of further injury.
© Macquarie Osteopaths. Not to be reproduced without express permission.Originally published on May 03, 2010