We love the work we do with young children, but that work also comes with a high risk of injury to the back. Any pain or discomfort can take our attention away from the children, and the repetitive tasks we do can make our back pain worse. When we understand what causes back pain at work, we can avoid injury and lost time.
The leading causes of back injury are:
- Exerting too much force on your back — such as lifting children or moving furniture can cause injury.
- Repeating specific movements such as bending, dancing, jumping, or twisting can injure your back.
- If you are an administrator, you may do most of your work at a desk. This contributes to back pain, mainly if you use poor posture, improper seating, or incorrect screen height.
What can you do?
- Make fitness a priority- especially your core muscles
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Quit smoking. Believe it or not, smoking slows the blood flow to your lower back. This can cause individual discs in your spine to degenerate, and if you have a back injury, smoking can slow the healing process.
Prevention is key
Learn proper lifting and carrying techniques.
If you carry children, keep them in front of you, not on your hip. Lift with your weight balanced equally on both feet and avoid twisting when picking children up.
Encourage independence in the children. If a child can walk, they can use stairs (with your assistance) to get onto the change table. If you take a child out of a crib, lower the side of the crib before lifting.
Be on the floor with the children, and comfort them while seated, rather than lifting them.
Use adult furniture when possible
Sit on the floor or use a low to the floor steno chair that is made for adults.
Use a proper step stool or ladder when you need to access things that are above your head.
Over the day, make sure to stretch. You can turn it into a fun game with the children.
How do you store things?
Think about storing heavy items at waist height. Take the time to put things away correctly so that you can access what you need efficiently.
If you have to move a heavy item, use a fridge cart, a wheel board, or anything else, you may have to hold the weight and is on wheels.
Your body will always let you know when it’s time to move. If you are sitting in one position for a lengthy period, periodically get up to move around and reposition yourself.
Lifting and bending, a PDF for Child Care Professionals: https://www.worksafebc.com/en/resources/health-safety/information-sheets/reducing-risk-injury-child-care-centres/lifting-bending?lang=en
Exercises to strengthen your back: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/backexercises.html