This article is for those who work in physically demanding professions such as a trade, health care, labouring, landscaping and cleaning.Upper and lower back pain and other injuries are very common among workers in physical professions, however much of this can be prevented by implementing a few ergonomic rules at work and doing a few simple exercises. We have put together some suggestions to help keep you pain free at work.

Maintain the condition of your body through stretching and strengthening:
The following are crucial to maintaining body health whilst working in a physical profession:

  • Strong and enduring core and back extensors
  • Flexible hip muscles
  • Strong and enduring legs
  • Loose pectoral muscles and strong upper back muscles

Overall, your body needs a balanced posture. That means you need to strengthen the muscle groups that are weaker than their antagonists and stretch the stronger ones. For example, a lot of people suffer from pain and muscle tension between the shoulder blades. Quite often, these muscles suffer because they are weaker than the pectoral muscles and the pectoral muscles lack flexibility. Stretching the pectoral muscles at the front and strengthening the shoulder blade stabilisers at the back will adjust the muscle imbalance and improve overall posture. Doing these exercises regularly will help to open the shoulders and reduce pain and tension.

There are many individualised stretches and strengthening exercises that we can recommend for you at the clinic.

Observe these 9 key ergonomic rules at work:
1. Do a short warm up before starting your work.
2. Bend your knees and keep your back straight when picking up something, even if it is a light object.
3. Avoid twisting your back: use your feet to pivot and bend from the hips.
4. Keep your chest open and avoid rolling your shoulders and neck forward. Keep your shoulder blades down and toward the spine and your chin tucked in.
5. Use a lunging position as much as you can: have one foot in front of the other, slightly apart. This is a stable position from which to reach forward or down while keeping your upper and lower back straight, and you can easily pivot the feet.
6. Adjust your work bench to a comfortable position.
7. Don’t carry heavy tools or objects on one side; instead use a good tool-belt, backpacks, wheelbarrow, etc.
8. Stand as tall as you can.
9. Always make sure your body isn’t too fatigued to keep a good posture before starting a difficult task.

(Guest writer: Freddie)