Working Overtime: Good News for your Wallet, Bad News for your Back?
Dear Patients & Friends:
Working overtime hours may be good news for your wallet, but bad news for your back, according to some new evidence. Slow economic growth has increased pressure on employers to increase overtime hours rather than hire new employees.
We have seen the effects of this in our clinic this spring. A rash of back pain cases have been associated with middle-aged employees working longer hours sitting or standing.
Samuel Howarth at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, and Jack Callaghan at the Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, recently studied the impact of shear force loading on vertebral joint fatigue in porcine models. Writing in the upcoming July 2013 issue of the journal Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, they reported that failure was not linearly related to cumulative shear force.
Simply put, just because for two weeks you can work 12- hour shifts sitting or standing without back pain, does not mean your neck or back won’t begin to fail the third week you work overtime shifts.
So how can we prepare our back for overtime work? The following tips may help you make it through the extra hours of load on your back:
When you have a break, use it to walk and stretch. If your job requires constant sitting or standing, then during your break time it is important for you to move around. Do this before and after work and during lunchtime as well.
Hot shower and stretch when you wake up, and ice at the first sign of pain. Using ice several times daily and continuing stretches at the first sign of pain keep swelling in your joints to a minimum, and allow your body a chance to adapt to the harder workload.
Stay active when you are not at work; for example, take a lawn chair to watch your son play baseball instead of unsupported sitting on a bleacher, avoid strenuous activity or prolonged sitting at home but instead continue light activity and light house and yard work only.
By being kind to your back and taking a short walk daily that boosts “happy chemicals” that fight inflammation, you may be able to work those overtime and double shift jobs without an episode of severe back pain. Then both your wallet and your back will be happy.
Robert A. Leach, DC, MS, FICC(h), CHES
Read more about Samuel Howarth and Jack Callaghan’s research on vertebral joint fatigue under sheer loads
Researchers at Life Univeersity School of Chiropractic were unable to demonstrate an effect of high heeled shoes on lumbar lordosis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23449540
Poor posture and lack of exercise continue to be reported as triggers for back pain: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23773646