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The Basics of Back Pain at Work

Anyone who has experienced a back injury knows just how painful it can be. No matter how serious the injury may be, the constant discomfort can make it difficult to focus on your work. Some jobs require a person to use more of the muscles in their back, like those in construction, manufacturing, and the nursing field. But even office workers can risk the chance of a disabling injury if they don’t follow proper safety procedures.

The staff of the Mayo Clinic put together a helpful article on their website, MayoClinic.com. They’ve identified some causes of workplace back pain and some tips for avoiding injury.

Work Factors That Can Cause Back Pain
The Mayo Clinic identified 4 factors that can increase the risk of back pain or injury in the work environment.

Force: Exerting too much force on your back can cause injury. Jobs that prone to causing injury can include those jobs that are physical in nature, or involve moving or lifting heavy objects.

Repetition: Tasks that involve repeating a movement over and over can lead to muscle fatigue or injury. This can include jobs where your body may be positioned awkwardly or where you must stretch to the limit of your range of motion.

Posture: The position you use when performing your job can also be a factor that can increase the risk of back pain. Sitting for extended periods of time, like those who work at a computer, might cause you to experience occasional aches and pains, especially if your position is not adjusted.

Stress: The pressure we experience in our home and work life can lead to muscle tension and tightness, which in turn can lead to back pain.

Tips for Avoiding Injuries
Be fit: The Mayo Clinic recommends that regular activity is best for a healthy back. Maintain a healthy weight for your age and height, as extra weight can create more stress on the back. Core strengthening exercises, that target the abdominal and back muscles, also help.

Pay attention to posture: The Mayo Clinic emphasizes that poor posture adds stress to your back. But good posture actually relaxes muscles and makes balancing your body easier. They recommend that if you stand for long periods of time, occasionally rest one foot on a stool or small box. Don’t bend forward to do work. When sitting, use a chair with good back support and make sure your feet are flat on the floor. If you must use a chair that does not support your back, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back.

Lift properly: The key to proper lifting is to always lift with your legs, keeping what you are lifting close to your body. Do not be afraid to ask for help if a load is too heave to lift on your own.

Adjust your work space: Observe your office or work space and make changes that to reduce physical demands. For instance, trying using a headset if you are on the phone for most of the day. Don’t use your shoulder to hold the phone against your ear. If you use a computer, make sure your monitor and your chair are positioned properly.

Address mental health concerns: Stress can cause your muscles to tense, and that tension can cause injuries. Coping mechanisms, such as deep-breathing exercises, going for a walk, and discussing problems, can help minimize stress.


If you’ve been injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Michael J. O’Connor & Associates at 800-51-4LAW for a free initial consultation.