If you work in a retail environment, chances are you're standing, bending and stretching for several hours a day. For many retail workers, chronic back pain is an ongoing issue. Fortunately, lower back pain in retail workers may easily treated by following ergonomic measures at work and through simple stretching exercises. If lower back pain exists, other measures that may help include the use of electrical stimulation and physical therapy.
Here are five ways for retail workers to reduce or eliminate lower back pain:
1. Create an Ergonomic Workplace
Slouching over for hours at a time places a great deal of stress on the lower back. One way to reduce this stress-induced lower back pain is to make your work space as comfortable and ergonomically designed as possible. For instance, stock workers should use carts, risers or angled tables to hold items. A tilted table or cart will hold items at an angle that is easily accessible, reducing the risk of back strain from bending.
Lower back string may also be due to standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time. Cashiers are especially vulnerable, as they tend to stand in one place for long periods at a time. To help eliminate the stress, use anti-fatigue mats.
If you work in a food preparation retail food environment, use prep tables that adjust for your height. Tables that are too low may cause you to bend or slouch, placing stress on the lower back. At the same time, maintain good posture.
2. Lift Heavy Objects Safely
Lower back pain and injury from incorrect lifting is a retail hazard. If you find yourself experiencing lower back pain after work, it may be caused by improper lifting methods. Keep these lifting techniques in mind to reduce your aches and pains:
- When lifting a heavy object, never bend at the waist or twist your torso. Doing so places stress on the lower back. Instead, bend your knees slightly and crouch down when lifting. You may find your lower back back is greatly reduced after using this method.
- Always hold heavy objects close to your body when lifting. If you hold a heavy item at arm's length, you may pull a muscle in your back. At the very least, you could experience a dull aching pain in your lower back after a long day of lifting at work.
3. Stretch Gently Before Work and Between Breaks
By doing some gentle stretching before you begin work, you may find your lower back pain is a thing of the past. Try bending at the waist or flexing your back and holding it for several seconds. Stretch for a few seconds on your breaks as well.
4. Try Electrical Nerve Stimulation
If your lower back pain persists even after trying the above suggestions at your retail work, you might consider the use of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS device). Using this method, electrical current is delivered through electrodes that are placed on the area of pain. The electrodes are connected to a small TENS device, using varying degrees of intensity that may be adjusted as you wish. It produces a mild sensation that stimulates the nerves and is considered to be safe for most individuals. You can purchase a TENS device at many health supply stores and pharmacies.
5. Consider Physical Therapy
Physical therapy may be prescribed by your primary health care provider. If your back pain has been caused by a retail work related injury, you may be entitled to worker's compensation. In such a case, your company will provide you with a free health evaluation and physical therapy sessions as indicated.
After an evaluation, your therapist will devise a program to help relieve your pain. Exercises are often used in therapy. Physical therapy to treat lower back pain may also include the use of equipment, such as exercise balls.
In addition, your physical therapist may use heat on your lower back to relive your pain and to warm the muscles before you perform your designated exercises. In some cases, alternating between heat and cold packs may bring relief.
If your lower back pain persists, you should see your physician for a proper diagnosis. If the pain is severe, X-rays or digital imaging may be necessary. This will help your doctor determine if lower back pain treatment is needed.