Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Need to Knows: Ergonomics and Nonspecific Low Back Pain

The Need to Knows: Ergonomics and Nonspecific Low Back Pain

What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics studies human capabilities in relationship to work demand. Ergonomics can be evaluated with a simple analysis of your work environment. This evaluation assesses hazards and possible risks of your work station and the recommended modifications to your work environment.  

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What is Nonspecific low back pain?
Nonspecific low back pain is a discomfort in the lower back without knowledge of the reasoning behind the pain. Back pain is the most commonly treated complaint by physicians. Four out of five people will have some sort of back pain in their lifetime. Most of the time, the exact cause of the pain cannot be found.

How do you prevent nonspecific low back pain?
One word: posture. Whether you are sitting or standing, your posture can affect your back pain. Another factor to take into consideration in relationship to back pain are sleeping positions. For women, wearing shoes with heels can greatly increase the possibility of generating back pain as well. When working long hours, you may wish to try to wearing shoes that have little to no rise. 

5 Stretches and Exercises You Can Do at Your Desk:

1. Stand up and sit down without using your hands.

In kindergarten we were often told that sitting still might  win us a gold star. However, now we know that not everything we learned in kindergarten could be considered a "good" habit. If you feel like you've been sitting for awhile, take a moment to perform this simple exercise.

2. Sit up straight and shrug your shoulders.

Shrugging your shoulders can not only relieve the stress in your back but also in your neck. Shrug your shoulders up and hold. Release after a few seconds and repeat three times. Also, move your neck in a "yes" and "no" type of motion. You can even ask yourself silly questions while you do it. For example, "Should I cancel the final exam for my students?" Etc.
3. Release the upper body with a torso twist.

Inhale, and as you exhale twist your torso to the right. With your right hand grab the back on the chair and with your left grab the armrest. Hold this position for a few moments and see how much of the wall you can see behind you. Release and continue to the other side.
4. Stretch your back with a "big hug".

Hug your body, placing your right hand on your left shoulder and your left hand on your right shoulder. Release the tension in your shoulder blades (moving your shoulders in front of your body). Release and do this a few more times.

 
5. Cross your arms -- for your shoulders and back.

Extend one arm out in front of you. With the other arm, grab above or below your elbow of the extended arm. Pull the extended arm across your body. Make sure you are doing this with an upright posture. Repeat a couple times while switching sides each time.

 
Since back pain is the most commonly treated complaint by physicians, early and continuous stretching will help in prevention and self therapy may be helpful when it comes to this chronic and annoying pain. If your pain worsens, please contact a physician. 

Michael Grove

Citations:

Low Back Pain-Prevention. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from Lower Back Pain Prevention

Stretching Exercises at Your Desk: 12 Simple Tips. Retrieved March 31, 2016, from Stretching Exercises at Your Desk