Back injuries rank among the top work-related injuries. Back disablements often result in lost time and a lengthy recuperation period and, as such, are major contributors to workers' compensation costs. In fact, according to the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health, back disorders account for over 24 percent of all occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work.
Sore backs can range from a nuisance to those that prevent the sufferer from doing what is needed for work or enjoyment. Prolonged back pain not only affects physical activity, but the continuously nagging pain can also begin to affect mood and outlook. In the workplace, factors that contribute to back injuries include:
In workplaces where there is a risk of back injury, steps can be taken to help reduce the incidence. One tool in the back-injury-prevention arsenal is back supports.
The rationale behind back supports is that they support your abdomen and take some of the load off your lower back. If you have a labor-intensive job that places stress on your lower back, a back brace can help while you're working or on returning to work after a back injury by avoiding too much strain on your spine. Posture support devices have added straps to help maintain a better posture for overall back health. Back support choices range from economical (starting at $10.51), to weightlifter belt style, to contoured and highly adjustable.
What a Back Support Can't Do
While a back support can be a helpful ergonomic tool, like any type of personal protective equipment (PPE) there are limitations to what it can do, and it is important to recognize those limitations in order to help prevent back injuries.
It is also important to remember that, while back supports can improve posture, they may restrict motion. There has been some concern this restriction may result in the wasting away (atrophy) of some muscles that support the spine through lack of use. If you use a back support, limit the use to intermittently several hours a day to ensure that muscles are properly maintained (and if you use a back support while recovering from a back injury, be sure to consult your medical professional regarding appropriate use for your conditions).
How to Select the Right Back Support
Selecting the appropriate back support is important for proper use and comfort while wearing it.