Avoid Low Back Pain At Work

Photo Credit: Nick Webb CC-BY-2.0
Millions of people suffer from low back pain. Some aches and pains may be caused by your work. Most minor back pain is caused by muscle strain from lifting, repetitive movements or sitting in one position for extended periods of time. Whether you lift boxes or sit at a computer screen all day, you can suffer from low back pain. You can reduce your risk of low back pain by doing exercises that strengthen your back muscles, employing proper lifting techniques and taking frequent stretching breaks if you sit at work. 
Sitting in front of a computer screen or at a work station for hours can contribute to low back pain. Take  3 to 5 minute break once each hour to stand up and stretch your back muscles. Put your hands on your hips and twist to the left and then to the right. Raise your arms over your head and reach for the ceiling to stretch the muscles from your shoulders down to your buttocks. You should have a chair with proper back support. Use a rolled-up towel between your lower back and the back of the chair if your chair does not provide enough support. Avoid slumping in your chair by maintaining good posture while sitting at your desk. Keep your shoulders back and hold your head up straight so that the bottom of your chin is parallel to the floor. 
Avoid low back pain and muscle injury by using lifting techniques to protect your back. If you lift heavy objects at work, always use proper lifting techniques or get help lifting very heavy objects. Lift heavy boxes and other objects by planting your feet shoulder-width apart and stand close to the object. Bend down from your knees, not your waist. Keep your back straight as you lower your body by bending your knees and get a firm grasp on the object. Squeeze your abdominal muscles for support and lift the object using your legs. 
Exercise that strengthens your back muscles is the best way to prevent and to relieve chronic low back pain. Exercises that strengthen your back and core muscles will help prevent lower back pain. Stretching exercises can help improve your flexibility. Maintain a healthy weight, too. You are at greater risk of low back pain if your are overweight. 

Avoid Exercise Injury

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No one is immune from workout injuries, but you can take steps to reduce your risk of injury. The most common type of workout injuries are strained muscles, knee and ankle sprains, shin splints, wrist sprain, shoulder injuries and tendinitis which is painful inflammation of the tendons from overuse. See your doctor if the pain persists, there is swelling or discoloration of the injured area. Always see your doctor for a full checkup prior to beginning an exercise program if you have been inactive for a long time or have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes. 
You can reduce your risk of strains and sprains by warming up before exercise and cooling down after a workout. Warming up gradually increases your heart rate and helps your muscles and joints prepare for more strenuous exercise by increasing blood flow. Cooling down will gradually return reduce your heart rate and allow your muscles and joints to relax following exercise. Stretching, walking and riding a stationary bicycle are good ways to warm up and cool down. Warm up and cool down for at least 10 minutes. 

Begin a new exercise by gradually increasing the level of your workout. For example, when you begin lifting weights start with the lightest weight possible. Don’t grab a 10 pound dumbbell and start doing bicep curls if you’ve never used them. Start with a 2 pound weight and gradually work toward the heavier weights. Don’t try to walk 2 miles if you haven’t been walking further than the distance between your car and your front door. If you overdo it you risk sore muscles and injury. 
Always use correct form when performing any exercise. Seek instruction from a qualified fitness instructor. Performing an exercise with poor form can result in injuries, especially when lifting weights or using resistance bands. Your posture is critical to effective exercise and to avoid injury. 
Cross training can help you prevent over-use injuries that are caused by repetitive motions. Alternate days for lifting weights and running or jogging. A fitness trainer can help you to develop a weekly plan so that you work a different muscle group each day. Cross training allows your muscles to rest between workouts. 

Relieve Lower Back Pain With Exercise

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Low back pain may result from overuse of the muscles and ligaments. Injuries to the muscles and ligaments also causes low back pain. You can get some relief from mild to moderate low back pain with stretching exercises. See a doctor to rule out serious injury, like a compression fracture or injured disk, before trying exercise to relieve low back pain. After your doctor has given you the go-ahead, try some of these exercises to help with low back pain:
Hip wagging is an exercise that will help to gently stretch out your sore muscles and ligaments in the lower back. Get on the floor on your hands and knees. Keep your spine straight from the top of your head to your tail bone. Look at the floor and spread your fingers slightly. Align your hands under your shoulders for stability. Place your knees slightly apart, about 4 to 6 inches. Slowly move only your hips to the left as far as you can without experiencing pain. Bring your hips back to the center and then slowly move your hips to the right. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. 
Hip extensions can follow the hip wagging exercise since you are already in the “all fours” position. Bring your right knee under your body toward your head as far as you can. Do not bring your chin toward your knee but continue looking at the floor. Next, stretch your right leg straight out behind your body. Keep your spine and your leg in a straight line parallel to the floor. Hold the stretch for about 5 seconds and repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times. Repeat this exercise with the left leg. 
Sit up straight on a sturdy dining-style chair that does not have armrests. Straighten your spin by dropping your shoulders down and back about 1 to 2 inches. Look straight ahead and rest your hands comfortably on your knees. Slowly curl your body forward beginning with your neck, then your upper back and finally with your lower back. Reach forward with your hands as you bend until your palms are touching the floor in front of your feet. Hold this stretch for about 5 seconds. Slowly roll your body back upright beginning at your lower back, upward to your middle back, your shoulders and then your neck. Try to perform this exercise in a smooth rolling motion. Repeat 10 times. 
Stretching your back muscles from side to side can help improve flexibility and reduce low back pain. Stand up straight and relax your arms at your sides. Place your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your upper body toward the right from the shoulder, down your side to your hip. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and the slowly return to the start position. Pause for 2 seconds and then bend toward the left. Repeat this exercise 10 times on each side. 

For more information about low back pain and exercises, see:

Prevention and Treatment of Shin Splints

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Runners. joggers, athletes and others who engage in high-impact aerobic exercise or sports can suffer from shin splints. Shin splints is a painful condition of the tibia and lower leg. The tibia is the large bone in the front of the lower leg, often called the shin bone. Force exerted on the shin can injure the tendons and connective tissues that attach the muscles to the tibia resulting in pain, swelling and sometimes redness. Shin splints can be very painful and may last for a few days to a week. See a doctor if swelling or redness persists and pain does not begin to subside within a few days. You can treat shin splints with ice to reduce the swelling and an over-the-counter pain reliever with an anti-inflammatory like Ibuprofen. 
You can prevent shin splints by taking  a few simple precautions. Wear a shoe designed for the type of activity you want to engage in. Runners and joggers should wear a shoe with a good arch support and enough padding to cushion the impact of the foot hitting the ground. Replace your shoes when they begin to show wear, usually after about 350 miles of wear. If you still experience shin pain, even with a good shoe, consider adding arch supports. A podiatrist can help you select an appropriate size arch support to relieve the stress on  your shin and support your feet comfortably. 
You can reduce the chance of suffering shin splints by cross-training and running on alternate days. Try swimming one day and running the next followed by bicycling before running again. You will help protect your shins from injury. Cross-training is also an excellent way to keep your whole body in shape. Strength train your leg muscles to strengthen the muscle and tendons attached to the shin. Lift weights with your legs and perform crunches and other exercises that will strengthen all the muscles of your legs. 

For more information about shin splints, see:
Mayo Clinic, Shin Splints