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10 Ways to Prevent Back Pain During a Shift

16th Mar, 2017

10 Ways to Prevent Back Pain During a Shift

Did you know that healthcare workers have 4.5 times as many back problems than any other profession? That statistic overtakes the likes of construction workers!

It may be short-term pain, but when your job involves being on your feet all day, a small ache becomes a big pain in the backside…literally!

Are you suffering from daily back pain at work? Here are some things you can do to help prevent it…

Strengthen your lower back

Use some of your free time to strengthen your lower back. This portion of your body is typically quite weak and susceptible to injury, which is definitely not good news for healthcare workers who put regular strain on this area.

Exercises you can do at home include:

  • Pelvic tilting
  • Hip bridges
  • Floor swimming
  • Lunges
  • Squats

Don’t forget to stretch too! Try the cat/cow stretch or child’s pose for a great lower back release.

Sleep your way to strength

Your muscles rely on great quality rest time to recover from a hard day at work. How well are you sleeping at night? Consider changing your mattress or pillows for a more supportive alternative.  

Keep moving

If you’ve injured your back, don’t stop moving entirely! Yes, you’ve been on your feet all day and you’ve earned your rest, but don’t spend your day off lying in bed doing nothing for fear of it getting worse.

Your spine needs to move in order to recover so get up, make the bed and take yourself out for a light walk. Avoid heavy exercise until you have fully recovered.

Chill out

During your rest time, chill your back with an ice pack (or frozen bag of peas). It’s best to chill your back within 48 hours of your initial back pain as the cold brings down any swelling. After 48 hours, you can switch to a heat pad instead.

Don’t use ice or heat for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Assess your posture

Bad posture is a major contributor to back pain. Avoid slumping to give yourself better support. If you’re lifting anything heavy, make sure you lift from the knees and never from your back.

Watch your weight

The more extra weight you’re carrying, the more strain you put on your body. Make sure you’re fuelling your body with nutritious food and drinks so you can maintain a healthy weight; you’ll see your energy levels improve too!

Wear comfy shoes

Your footwear has a big impact on your posture. If you’re on your feet all day, make sure your footwear is the correct size and stays comfortable throughout your entire shift. If you wear heels during the day (non-clinical professionals), switch to a lower heel to distribute your weight more evenly.

Treat yourself

You may find that your muscles need some TLC after multiple long shifts. Book yourself a professional massage on a day off to work any knots out of your back. If you’re feeling really generous, treat yourself to a full spa day so you can unwind properly.

Buy over the counter pain relief

Pharmaceutical creams and gels can be purchased over the counter for temporary pain relief; perfect if you’re struggling to get through a 12hour shift!

Don’t ignore persistent back pain

If your back pain doesn’t seem to be easing after a couple of weeks, book an appointment to visit your GP (because even healthcare workers need taking care of sometimes!) to see if you need further treatment.