About your Back
A healthy spine is one that is properly aligned with its three normal curves in their normal balanced position. Loss of the natural “S” curve or a forward or backward curved spine places more uneven tension or stress on muscles, making it hard for them to function normally.
Your spine is made up of three major regions, which include the neck, upper back and lower back and your spinal column consists of 24 boney vertebrae, which are stacked one upon another. They are separated by discs which act as shock absorbers.
Back injuries normally occur in the lower lumbar or sacral area, flexibility and proper support of these regions is critical to a healthy back.
Causes of back pain
Back injuries may be caused or irritated by,
Improper lifting and or bending
Manual material handling task are frequently associated with low back injury. Workers can sustain a back injury in an isolated incident such as lifting too heavy of a load. These accidents are usually a result of not using proper lifting techniques. The location of the load is important. A load lifted far from the body imposes more stress on the back than the same load close to the body. A bulky object is more difficult to lift than a compact load of the same weight, because it or the center of gravity cannot be brought to the center of the body.
As discussed workers can sustain injury from an isolated incident however injuries can occur from a repetitive activity. For instance, workers may not take the time to pivot their feet. Instead of moving their whole body in the direction of the turn, they twist keeping feet planted thus increasing the likelihood of injury. If a back injury has occurred, repetitive twisting does not allow it to recover, prolonging the injury or making it worse.
Poor posture seated or standing
Whether it is work or play, sitting or standing our bodies are designed to move and bend and our posture changes to fit the task. If our bodies are not moving, static posture is taking place. When workers sit or stand in an awkward position over a prolonged period of time, back pain can occur. As the muscles contract to hold the body in an awkward position, tendons are pulled and joints are compressed, resulting in discomfort.
Fatigue occurs when muscular energy is depleted after performing daily tasks. The effects of fatigue are compounded when workers go from one task to another without resting in between. This faster work pace reduces the time necessary for workers to restore muscle energy and as a result they become increasing tired as the shift progresses. Senior workers who may not be able to keep up with an every increasing work pace are especially at risk. The effects of fatigue add up over time and maybe the cause of many muscular skeletal injuries. As time passes, these injuries can develop into chronic conditions that can become more difficult to treat effectively.
Lack of stretching prior to activities
Poor conditioning can increase the chances of back injury of occurring. When proper stretching of core muscles of the spine and abdomen does not occur, adequate blood flow to these areas is reduced. Workers must understand that muscles, tendons and ligaments are not prepared to handle the stress level of manual handling tasks when not warmed up. For any kind of lifting or handling, warming up is important, particularly when a worker is not use to handling loads
- Other factors such as diet, environment, stress, genetic predisposition and sports related injuries are also contributors to back injuries
Although pain or discomfort can happen anywhere, the most common area affected in most people is the lower back. This is because the lower back supports most of the weight of your body. Lower back pain may be acute (short-term), lasting less than one month, or chronic (long-term, continuous, ongoing), lasting longer than three months. While getting acute back pain more than once is common, continuous long-term pain is not.
Lower back pain can occur from:
- Small fractures to the spine from osteoporosis
- Muscle spasm (very tense muscles that remain contracted)
- Ruptured or herniated disk
- Degeneration of the disks
- Poor alignment of the vertebrae
- Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
- Strain or tears to the muscles or ligaments supporting the back
Treatments for Back Pain
Are you experiencing back pain and discomfort? Here's several things you can do.
- Apply ice for up to 15 minutes a few times per day to reduce any pain and swelling immediately after any activity that aggravates your pain. Do not perform activities that involve heavy lifting or twisting of your back for the first few weeks after the pain begins.
- Gently stretch and massage legs and back muscles. To prevent reoccurrence, perform light cardiovascular training (walking, riding a stationary bicycle, and swimming are great examples). Such aerobic activities can help blood flow to your back and promote healing. They also strengthen muscles in your stomach and back.
- Take over-the-counter pain medicine (unless you have a history of any other condition that does not allow you to take one of these drugs). Always seek medical help for severe and reoccurring back irritation and pain.
- At work there are several things you can do to minimize your exposure to back injuries including Utilizing mechanical lifting devices, using proper lifting techniques, performing stretching exercises prior to strenuous activities, rotating jobs where possible, ensuring work stations are properly designed and using lumbar supports.
- Wear the Air Belt lumbar supports - The Air Belt may lessen pain associated with low-back injury and help increase expression of previous strength and flexibility, thus facilitating a return to normal daily activity. It is also a reminder for proper posture, a key for maintaining a healthy back.
About the Air Belt
The new Air Belt® line offers another solution to assist employers, workers and individuals to address the problem of rising musculoskeletal injuries which account for a large portion of occupational illnesses. These traumas cost billions of dollars and loss of work hours and have been linked to workplace stress, high turnover rates, and quality and productivity problems.
The Air Belt is a patented ergonomic support system that employs air as the primary element to not only effectively support but to cushion and stabilize as well. The unique product designs provide optimum anatomical conformance with firm supportive pressure to specific back muscles. There is no restriction of blood flow or inhibition of the natural range of motion. In addition, the air cells actually create a pulsing, graduated compression which massages the muscles, keeping them properly elongated and in a resting state. In this condition muscles are less prone to initial or continuous injury.
Clinical studies show a decrease in muscular activity correlated clinically with relief or reduction in the patient’s discomfort when using the Air Belt. A study was conducted on a high risk group of individuals that had been suffering from back problems for more than a year. From the group 53% had been absent from their workplace 1 to 14 or more days during the 3 months prior to the study. None of the individuals experienced lost time due to back pain or injury during the next 3 months when using the Air Belt. The results of this study indicated that use of an Air Belt may lessen pain associated with low-back injury and help increase expression of previous strength and flexibility, thus facilitating a return to normal daily activity.
The Air Belt has inflatable multi-celled chambers that conform to your back when air is added providing support and reducing muscular discomfort. It can be worn inside or outside of clothing. The manual aspirator system with pressure relief valve can be neatly tucked under the belt. The Air Belt line offers multiple designs, materials and styles to suit the specific needs of the individual.
Questions about the use of the Air Belt
Does it weaken muscles?
By allowing a full range of motion, the Air Belt does not weaken muscles.
Does it only remind the user to lift properly?
Users will use their muscles in a normal manner. Lifting properly is a function of training and no belt will guarantee you a safe lift.
Does it cause a false sense of security?
Standard back belts may act as a reminder, but the Air Belt provides additional benefits. The Air Belt helps to eliminate unwanted lower back contractions; this will reduce fatigue and on going back pain that will occur if contractions or spasms go unchecked. By placing pressure on shorten muscles, these muscles are allowed to return to normal resting length. Wear Viscolas insoles. The Viscolas polymer has been specifically designed to dampen skeletal shock (the constant pounding on your lower body from walking on hard surfaces). Reducing the shock reduces the added aggravation to pre-existing painful conditions. By cushioning the lower body, Viscolas insoles help painful areas heal faster.
Disclaimer: The above treatments are suggestions based on commonly experienced symptoms and do not represent medical advice. For anything other than minor pain or for persistent pain symptoms, please consult with a Physician for a professional treatment program.