Long Day On Your Feet? Here’s How to Reduce Your Lower Back Pain
Thank you to Dr. Davana Pilczuk of The Human Performance Group for this article. Dr. Pilczuk is an award-winning kinesiologist who specializes in human performance. She is a speaker, writer and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, sports teams and small businesses.
Does your back hurt at the end of the day or even a few hours into your daily work tasks? It is
understandable to have sore legs, feet and backs in the funeral industry so here are some easy tips to
help reduce those aches and pains. By implementing a few ergonomic tricks and then adding in a few
simple recovery techniques, your back pain will reduce in no time.
Ergo Tip 1
Ergonomics is the science of work and how it affects humans. By reducing the work demands, you can
improve the health of your back and all the joints you use at work. The first thing you need to do is to
pay attention to where your hands and elbows are while working. The further your hands and elbows
are from your torso, the more stress you are placing on the back. For example, if you have ever had to
give a baby or dog a bath in the tub, chances are once you finished, your back was sore. This is because
your hands were stretched out in front of you for a while which placed significant strain on your back.
And if you had to raise your arms up to wash the child or pet’s head, the raised elbows also stressed
your back. So ergo tip number one: move yourself closer to your work so that your elbows are close to
your sides. Outstretched arms equals back pain, therefore keep your arms close to your body.
Ergo Tip 2
Standing can also lead to low back pain, along with leg fatigue and sore feet. If you must stand for more
than 20 minutes at a time, get yourself a footrest. Our legs are roughly 40% of our total body weight, so
giving them a break now and then will allow both the leg muscles and muscles of the low back to have a
rest (think like a flamingo). By using something as simple as a milk crate or stool, you can alternate
resting each leg to alleviate some of that limb weight from pulling on your back. You can also install a
footrail beneath work benches and tables you work at for long periods of time. Tip number 2: use
anything that allows you to rest your legs (about 12 inches high), in order to give your back a break.
When the body is tired and sore from a hard day’s work, don’t just go home and sit. Give your body
some help with recovery by following the RICE principle. RICE stands for: rest, ice, compress and elevate.
Pain is the body’s way of telling us to ease up. Something is injured or has been pushed a bit beyond its
limits, so listen to those aches and pains and rest. Sit down, get off your feet, and stop activity when you
are experiencing real discomfort. Its ok to be mildly sore at the end of a long day, but if you feel that
your discomfort is borderline injury, take a rest.
When you are sore or experiencing actual pain, there is inflammation. To bring down the swelling (even
if you can’t visually see swelling, it can still occur), ice the area for about 15 minutes at least once a day
to bring down the initial swelling. Use a bag of frozen peas or a bag of ice and place it directly onto the
sore joint. If you cannot tolerate that level of cold, lay a paper towel under the bag first to help you ease into the cold. Ultimately though, you want the area to get cold and not just cool. No need to exceed 15
minutes though. We don’t want you getting freezer burn!
Finally, if possible, compress and elevate the sore body part. These two steps aren’t as crucial as resting
and icing, but try them if applicable. For instance, if the bottoms of your feet hurt or maybe your knees
are throbbing, try using an ace bandage around the joint and then raise it up if possible (think of laying
back in a recliner and elevating your legs). This will help reduce additional swelling.
Incorporate these simple steps into your work routine and your back will stat feeling better in no time!