10 Jobs with High Risks for Developing Back Pain (and How to Prevent It)
Simple actions like wearing specific shoes, stretching or lifting properly can make a difference.
- By Rupert Jones
- May 18, 2023
Back pain is a common ailment that affects millions of individuals across various professions, often causing discomfort and hindering productivity in the workplace. Occupations that involve long hours of standing, lifting heavy objects or maintaining static postures are particularly at risk.
By understanding the causes and identifying effective preventative measures tailored to specific job profiles, you can ensure that you’re comfortable throughout your professional career.
10 Jobs That Put You at Risk for Back Pain (and How to Prevent It)
In this article, we'll explore the worst jobs for back pain and the ways to mitigate potential harm while promoting proper posture and muscle balance. Here are 10 high-risk jobs for back pain.
1. Construction workers. Construction work, with all its heavy lifting and physically demanding tasks, often leads to back pain-related issues. To prevent these problems, you should practice proper lifting techniques. By bending at your knees, not your waist, you can protect your spine from unnecessary strain.
Consider using items such as supportive shoes, adjustable ladders with stable footing or tool belts that provide lumbar support. If your employer doesn’t supply this equipment, it may be worth it to go out of pocket. You only have one back, and you’ll want to keep it in tip-top shape for life.
2. Manual laborers. A manual laborer, similar to a construction worker, has one of the worst jobs for back pain. This category includes jobs like factory workers or movers who perform repetitive heavy lifting that contributes to spine issues over time. It's crucial to follow safety guidelines when lifting objects.
Since construction workers and manual laborers perform similar duties, it makes sense that their prevention methods would be similar. It’s important for laborers to understand their physical limits. This can be done by creating a culture of mindfulness towards a person’s well-being.
3. Nurses and healthcare professionals. Nursing and healthcare jobs require frequent lifting and moving of patients. To prevent potential back injuries, learn to use proper body mechanics when helping patients and team up with coworkers for assistance during physically demanding tasks. Never lift a patient alone.
It’s not all that uncommon for nurses to develop spinal issues because they don’t use patient transfer equipment or ask their coworkers for help. In some cases, healthcare professionals may have to seek out effective surgical interventions for spinal issues with a licensed surgeon.
4. Dentists and dental hygienists. Prolonged leaning over patients puts strain on their backs. Proper posture is paramount in reducing back pain among dental professionals. While working, maintaining a neutral spine position with minimal bending can make a difference in the amount of pressure on the back.
Taking frequent breaks whenever possible allows you to rest and reset your posture, and that’s important. A few moments spent stretching or changing positions can markedly relieve muscle fatigue, making it less likely for you to develop long-term issues such as chronic back pain.
5. Office workers. Office workers, surprisingly, have one of the worst jobs for back pain because of the amount of prolonged sitting that leads to poor posture. Make it a habit to maintain proper posture while seated, take regular breaks to stand up or walk around and utilize an ergonomic chair.
Considering the placement of computer monitors and keyboards can affect spine positioning over time. setting up an ergonomically appropriate workstation is crucial. Adjust both monitor heights and keyboard angles to avoid putting strain on your neck or wrists during daily tasks.
6. Warehouse workers. The constant bending and lifting associated with warehouse work can take a toll on your back. To mitigate this risk, it's important to practice safe lifting techniques, wear supportive footwear and consider using braces or supports to protect your spine, similar to other general laborers.
Incorporating stretching exercises both before and after work shifts can prepare your body for labor-intensive activities and reduce the risk of muscular injuries. Make sure you target major muscle groups that are involved during warehouse work, like hamstrings, shoulders and hips.
7. Drivers. Drivers within professions such as trucking or public transportation often face long hours on the road, which may lead to stiffness and back pain due to prolonged sitting. One factor for all drivers is prioritizing frequent breaks, either standing or walking, to promote blood circulation.
You should also consider the design of your vehicle's seat. Investing in a good-quality car seat with adjustable features, if possible, will go a long way in preventing back pain. If you can’t modify your seat, consider adding ergonomic cushions for your buttocks, back, neck and head.
8. Landscapers and gardeners. Landscapers and gardeners perform a variety of physically demanding tasks, including bending, lifting, digging or cutting. To maintain the health of your back, apply correct body mechanics during various tasks. This includes keeping your spine aligned and bending your knees.
Opting for equipment designed for comfort and ease of use, such as cushioned handles, lightweight materials or long-handled tools, will help keep landscapers and gardeners work safely. Taking appropriate breaks throughout work sessions helps prevent muscle fatigue and allows time for recovery.
9. Cleaners. Cleaners, particularly those tasked with vacuuming, mopping or bending to tidy various spaces, may find themselves at a higher risk of back strain and discomfort. An essential aspect of protecting your back when cleaning is learning how to maintain correct body posture.
When vacuuming or mopping, try to keep your back straight. When bending, use knee pads so you aren’t compensating for your discomfort by contorting your spine. Other common advice, like using ergonomic tools, taking regular breaks and stretching, also applies to cleaners.
10. Hairstylists. Styling hair can be a rewarding profession, but it does come with its own set of physical risks. In fact, hairstyling can cause back pain, as these professionals spend hours a day standing, bending over clients and using their hands and wrists to tend to their locks.
Two things are going to be important for the overall health of hairstylists: proper posture and great footwear. Maintaining proper alignment while standing or sitting allows for even distribution of weight across your body's joints, while good footwear can reduce the impact on the spine.