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How to Reduce Overuse Injuries of the Lower Back

06.27.2022 | Exercises, Prevention, Therapy

The lower back is a common area for workers to feel sore and/or experience a strain or sprain injury. This type of soreness or injury can result from individual risk factors; poor technique, posture, or body mechanics; muscle tightness; muscle weakness and deconditioning; and repetition, just to name a few.  

There are many strategies and techniques that workers can use to reduce their risk of experiencing an overuse injury of the lower back. Often a combination of approaches is the best way to stay safe and healthy in the workplace. 

Using a Paced or Graded Approach 

If workers are completing work tasks that they haven’t done in a while or are particularly challenging, it is important to pace themselves. Working at a level of intensity or speed that their body is not ready for puts them at a higher risk for soreness to develop or an injury to occur. It is important to ease into job tasks by breaking them into smaller parts, going at a slower speed, or taking rest breaks, all while listening to their bodies to assess tolerance. Over time, they can work to increase speed and intensity as their muscles get used to the physical demands of the job task. 

Stretching 

Stretching is a great way to prepare for, cool down from, or change posture or position in the context of daily work tasks. If workers are planning to complete a more physical job task, they should stretch the muscles needed before they begin the task. If they have been completing job tasks in a similar position for 30-60 mins, taking a microbreak and completing a stretch that takes them out of that position can help to reduce soreness. If they have just completed a series of physical job tasks, taking a few minutes to stretch and allow their body to recover is an important consideration. Stretching also helps to improve overall flexibility and blood flow, improving workers’ tolerance for a wide variety of postures and positions throughout their workday. 

Engaging in a Regular Fitness Routine 

low back stretchMaintaining balanced strength across major muscle groups is an important factor in reducing injury risk. Key muscle groups to focus on to help support the lower back include core, glutes, and lower extremities. Keeping these muscle groups strong in the context of a regular fitness routine will reduce the amount of work the back has to do when completing bending, lifting, and sustained posture tasks while working. 

Using Good Body Mechanics 

Using good bending and lifting mechanics is another key for avoiding lower back soreness. 

  • Use a wide base of support 
  • Keep items close 
  • Engage core and glute muscles when bending and lifting 
  • Hinge at the hips  
  • Avoid twisting 

Being Proactive with Soreness Self-Management 

At iWorks Heath, our onsite injury prevention specialists provide education and support to workers in both individual and group settings to help reduce overuse injuries. In addition to coaching workers on the importance of each of the above topics, they also provide first aid techniques under OSHA First Aid guidelines, and ergonomic assessment and consultation to help reduce employee soreness and musculoskeletal discomfort. iWorks injury prevention specialists empower workers to become active participants in learning strategies and techniques to better manage and prevent their soreness proactively, keeping them safe, healthy, and happy at work. 

Interested in learning more about iWorks Health? Connect with us at info@iworkshealth.com.