Dec 21, 2011 / by Alisa Hafen / No Comments

Back injuries are cited as the most common reason for absenteeism in the general workforce.  Over 80 percent of adults are estimated to experience a back injury in their lifetime and about 10 percent will suffer a re-injury.

Many occupations, such as construction, mining, factory work, and even routine office work can place significant demands on your back.

Nearly everyone at some point has back pain that will interfere with work, activities or recreation. Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on lower back pain, which is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work.

Most professional athletes take the time to stretch their muscles before a workout or a game.  If you know that you are going to be doing work that will strain your back, shouldn’t you take the same precautions?

The best way to prevent back injuries is to develop habits that reduce the strain placed on the back. There are some basic things you can do to help.

Avoid lifting and bending whenever you can.  Anytime you can spare your back the stress and the strain of lifting and bending, you need to do so.

The best zone for lifting is between your shoulders and your waist.  Try to put heavier objects on shelves at waist level, lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.  Use carts and dollies to move objects instead of carrying them yourself.  By bending the knees, you keep your spine in a better alignment.

Take a balanced stance with your feet before bending to pick up the object and always try to reduce the amount of weight lifted – better to load several small boxes than one extremely heavy load.

Use handles and lifting straps whenever possible and get help if the shape is too awkward or the object is too heavy for you to lift and move by yourself.

It also helps if you know your body’s limitations.  Know when your back is most at risk: bending, lifting, reaching and twisting.

Using the proper lifting and carrying techniques, as well as maintaining an exercise and stretching program, will reduce your chances of getting hurt.