Masons run a high risk of developing lower back pain, but it's not inevitable. There are many ways to reduce this risk significantly. As a mason you put a lot of stress on your spine by bending, lifting, and twisting. The key to having a healthy back is to maintain your spine in a balanced position. You can do many other things to save your lower back from injury over the course of your masonry career.
- Exercise three to five times a week.
- Eat well to prevent excess body weight that would add stress to your joints.
- Manage your stress.
- Don't smoke.
- Get enough rest and know your limits.
- Make sure your work area is as ergonomic as possible, using adjustable scaffolding or an adjustable materials platform.
- Use lighter units.
- The Washington, D.C.-based Center to Protect Workers' Rights (CPWR) has a helpful Construction Ergonomics Checklist on its Web site (www.cpwr.com/kcheck .html). People with back injuries can develop seemingly minor symptoms that are actually the first signs of a serious injury. At the first sign of pain, you should consult a health care professional to assess your symptoms while you have them. A masonry contractor can increase awareness of what causes back pain and how it can be treated and managed: Show lunchtime videos on back injury prevention and treatment.
- Arrange for a physical therapist to give demonstrations and to answer questions.
- Work closely with the physical therapist to establish an in-house program of prevention and effective injury management.
Article also includes information on getting your back into the "power position," the price of pain, how to address ever-changing ergonomics and tips for maintaining a healthy back.