Today I thought I would share this article from the Marshfield Clinic on preventing back pain. Short-term and long-term back pain are very common in people whose jobs involve a lot of lifting or operating heavy machinery. When people talk about preventing back pain, they often talk about lifting with your legs or wearing a back brace. These things can help, but the best way to prevent back pain is to minimize how much lifting and carrying you do in the first place. For example, rather than carrying buckets back and forth by hand over long distances, put them in a wagon or use a vehicle to transport them. We’ve been using an old lawnmower with a utility wagon to transport feed across the yard and it’s been working well. Even small reductions in lifting and carrying can add up over time!
One major cause of lower back pain that isn’t covered in as much detail is full body vibrations caused by operating heavy machinery. One of the professors in the biomedical engineering department here has been studying ways to prevent back pain in truckers. Installing shock absorbing seats seems to help somewhat (click here to see some examples of shock absorbers for tractors). However, like with lifting-related back pain the best prevention is to try to reduce or eliminate exposure to the vibration. In a lot of cases it isn’t practical to avoid vibration completely, but even taking a break for 5 minutes every hour or so and rotating operators if possible so that one person isn’t taking on all of the vibration can help. Like with lifting, even reducing your exposure a little bit here and there can add up over time!