An estimated 75% – 85 % of Australians will experience back pain at some time in their life. Most cases are caused by poor posture and improper movement, rather than the result of a serious medical condition.
Unfortunately, construction workers and tradesmen can be more prone to back pain due to the nature of their work. For this reason, we have put together a short list of tips to help prevent and treat back pain.
Keep the chest forward
Always be sure to bend at the hips – not the lower back. Most people believe bending their knees will ensure a safe lift, but this can still lead to a back injury. The most important tip is to bend the hips and push the chest out, pointing forward.
Lead with the hips, not the shoulders
Twisting is another dangerous mistake that can lead to back injury. The shoulders should be kept in line with the hips to avoid this movement. For changing directions, move the hips first so the shoulders will move in unison.
Keep the weight close to the body
The further an object is held away from you, the more force required to hold that object up. For example, for most people it is not too difficult to hold a concrete slab close to the chest, but it can be quite difficult to hold it stretched out in front at arm’s reach.
Over-the-counter pain medications can help alleviate back pain. Try an anti-inflammatory drug such as, aspirin (in brands like Disprin), ibuprofen (such as Nurofen), naproxen (such as Naprosyn), but be sure to talk to a doctor or pharmacist prior to taking any of these drugs, especially if you plan to continue working on site. In addition to medications, you can also apply a heating pad or ice pack to the painful area.
A good night’s sleep
A good night’s sleep will help ease back pain as sleep deprivation will always make the pain seem worse. To help you sleep well at night, make sure that your bed and mattress is comfortable. Sleeping with a pillow between your knees may help as well.
Contrary to popular belief, resting is not ideal for individuals with back pain. Instead, consider stretching, going for a walk, or any form of gentle physical activity to help strengthen the muscle. It’s also a good idea to exercise on a regular basis in order to stretch your muscles and as a result, minimize or completely eliminate back pain.
If your back pain persists after trying to relieve it on your own, you will need to see a spine expert.