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Standing at Work All Day? Here’s Why your Lower Back Hurts

Were you ever told to stand up straight when you were a child? Maybe we should have listened to our elder’s advice and developed good posture at an early age. Most people worldwide experience some back pain during their lives.

The good news is that there are many ways to relieve the aches that come with back pain at work. If you catch it early, most of the pain will dissipate in a relatively short time. Those with chronic back pain, however, may need medical intervention.

What is Postural Stress?

Postural stress occurs when there is a misalignment within your body, causing increased pressure on your spine. When this happens, the lower back muscles can tighten and spasm.

You want the muscles of your body to support the skeleton in an alignment that is stable and efficient. Ideally, your spine should be in a balanced, upright position. Slouching and rounded shoulders can exacerbate the issue, as can having a hunchback or swayback posture. You place undue pressure on your joints, muscles, and vertebrae, which may induce spasms.

To relieve the onset of back pain, stand as if a straight line is running from your ear to your shoulder to your hip.

Four Reasons for Lower Back Pain while Standing, and how to Treat Each One

If your back pain is mild, it may dissipate with time and rest. If the pain persists for more than three weeks, or if the pain is debilitating, then it’s essential to contact your physician. A doctor may recommend surgery or other corrective action if drugs or physical therapy aren’t successful, or if you have chronic back pain. Learn four types of back pain and how to treat each one.

  1. Muscle fatigue is the most common reason for back pain at work. The potential for backaches increases if you work in retail, cleaning, or the food industry because your day involves many hours on your feet. The best way to relieve the strain on the lower back muscles is to rest! Hot or cold therapy and over-the-counter pain relievers will help, as will gentle exercises to loosen tight muscles.
  2. Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs when there is a narrowing of the spine, which puts pressure on the spinal cord. Symptoms include a weakening in the legs, numbness in the lower back, or sciatica when a sharp pain radiates down the leg. A doctor will prescribe physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, or steroid injections to alleviate the pain. Most people who contract these conditions are over 50, but it can be present at birth.
  3. Degenerative disc disease occurs as people age, and the discs between the vertebrae wear down. The lower back pain radiates to the buttocks and thighs and can be severe. If anti-inflammatory drugs, ice and heat packs, physical therapy, or a back brace don’t alleviate the pain, a doctor may recommend artificial disc replacement or spinal fusion.
  4. A person may have a genetic predisposition to hyperlordosis, which is an inward curve to the lower spine, and sometimes referred to as swayback. It can result from spinal injuries or be due to obesity, osteoporosis, or rickets. Treatment includes a back brace for children or corrective surgery for severe cases in adults.

Preventative Measures

There are many steps you can take to avoid back pain. If you form healthy habits, you may escape ever having back pain. While you can’t control a genetic predisposition for back pain, you can take precautions to increase a healthy back. Discover ways you have control.

Practice Healthy Habits

  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day at least five days a week. Regular physical activity can ease inflammation and muscle tension. Combine aerobic exercise like swimming or walking with weight-bearing exercises. Yoga provides excellent stretching and strengthening opportunities for your lower back.
  • Eat a diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D decrease your chances of developing osteoporosis, which is responsible for bone fractures that lead to back pain.
  • Reduce your weight if you need to. Extra pounds, especially around your tummy, shift your center of gravity and put a strain on your lower back.
  • Smoking restricts the flow of nutrient-containing blood to your lower back, which may contribute to spinal disc degeneration. You are more vulnerable to back pain as a smoker, and it is best to stop smoking altogether.

Pay Attention to Your Posture

  • If your job requires you to be on your feet, focus on keeping your head up, and your stomach pulled in so that you can avoid lower back pain while standing. If possible, rest one foot at a slightly higher elevation, and switch to the other foot every 15 minutes.
  • When you pick up heavy objects, bend your knees, and keep your back straight rather than leaning over. Pull in your stomach muscles and hold the object close to your body as you raise the object.
  • Choose bags and briefcases that support good posture, preferably one with a broad strap that you can wear over the opposite shoulder. If your bag distributes weight more evenly, it allows you to keep your back straight. Reducing the weight of the bag by periodically cleaning out unnecessary items is beneficial as well.
  • Avoid high heels because they shift your center of gravity and strain the lower back. If you must wear higher heels, have a pair of low-heeled shoes available to change into if you feel back strain.

A critical element when facing issues with your back is to listen to your body. Resting your back is the first recommendation when you feel the twinges of a backache. Sit down and put your feet up, or lay on your back and relax once you are home.

If you feel acute pain or it is debilitating, call your doctor immediately. Receiving a proper diagnosis is essential for the correct treatment. Our offices can offer an examination and provide a plan to alleviate your back issues. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

By practicing good health habits and focusing on proper posture, you can avoid back pain. When your back pain needs medical intervention, call us immediately for an evaluation. Let’s work together to alleviate your pain.

About Vivek Kushwaha

Vivek P. Kushwaha attended the University of Texas at Austin where he earned his B.A. from the College of Natural Sciences. He then earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio, Texas.

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