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Low back pain common in farmers

High incidences due to the mix of manual labour and seated positions in most ag jobs

Low back pain — one of the world’s most prevalent musculoskeletal complaints. A study done in 2010 estimated that 21.7 billion people are affected globally per year from some form of low back pain, usually attributed to a work-related cause.

The highest relative risk factor, according to the study, was agriculture-related work. Not surprising, given the mix of manual labour and seated positions in most ag jobs. Whether it’s rice farmers in the oceania, grain farmers across the world, hog/dairy/beef/equine workers, or tobacco farmers in Brazil, there’s high incidences of low back pain within the population. It’s most commonly caused by poor movement habits, postural deficiencies, long periods of immobility, repetitive movements or a combination of all of these.

If you’re suffering from acute low back pain that is severe or new to you, seek advice from your doctor, athletic therapist, physio, kinesiologist or movement professional as soon as possible. Pain is there to tell you something, not to be ignored.

Eating right, moving right, and using appropriate stretches, heat, and ice will be key in managing your back pain. Consulting your local movement professional and having an assessment done is the best way to prevent or treat your pain.

Wall Angels — This exercise isn’t directly designed for the low back but indirectly has shown some amazing results, targeting the postural muscles in the upper back and shoulders and correct- ing position malfunction in the lower back. Leaning against a wall with your feet about a foot in front of you and knees slightly bent, tilt pelvis so that the entire spine is touching the wall from hips to shoulders. Bring arms to touch the wall. If your back pops off the wall here, correct before continuing. If you are unable to keep the arms flat against the wall, straighten them in front of you instead. Slide the arms up and down the wall, or up and down in front of you keeping shoulders active. Repeat 10 times, doing frequently through- out the day. You’ll feel the muscles between the shoulder blades working, but this helps to stretch the low back and correct posture through the entire spine.

Wall Angels — This exercise isn’t directly designed for the low back but indirectly has shown some amazing results, targeting the postural muscles in the upper back and shoulders and correct- ing position malfunction in the lower back. Leaning against a wall with your feet about a foot in front of you and knees slightly bent, tilt pelvis so that the entire spine is touching the wall from hips to shoulders. Bring arms to touch the wall. If your back pops off the wall here, correct before continuing. If you are unable to keep the arms flat against the wall, straighten them in front of you instead. Slide the arms up and down the wall, or up and down in front of you keeping shoulders active. Repeat 10 times, doing frequently through- out the day. You’ll feel the muscles between the shoulder blades working, but this helps to stretch the low back and correct posture through the entire spine.
photo: Supplied

Cobra — This exercise reverses the flexion motion — which anyone working in manual labour will do a lot of. Laying on your front, using your arms, push yourself up to the level that feels comfortable and lower down. Breathe in as you move up, and exhale as you come down. Repeat 10-15 times, and do as many sets daily as you’d like.

Cobra — This exercise reverses the flexion motion — which anyone working in manual labour will do a lot of. Laying on your front, using your arms, push yourself up to the level that feels comfortable and lower down. Breathe in as you move up, and exhale as you come down. Repeat 10-15 times, and do as many sets daily as you’d like.
photo: Supplied

McGill Curl-Up — This exercise will strengthen the core. Thekey point is not to suck in but brace the muscles in the torso by pushing them out or bearing down. Laying on your back with one knee bent and opposite arm overhead, pushing or bracing the core muscles (you should feel the abdominals “pop” into your hand at the hip as if you were laughing vigorously or coughing). Curl the chest off the ground, with core activation. Repeat this movement 10 times/side three times daily. Practise the brace throughout daily movements as well (such as lifting, bending, twisting) and notice a decrease in low back discomfort.

McGill Curl-Up — This exercise will strengthen the core. Thekey point is not to suck in but brace the muscles in the torso by pushing them out or bearing down. Laying on your back with one knee bent and opposite arm overhead, pushing or bracing the core muscles (you should feel the abdominals “pop” into your hand at the hip as if you were laughing vigorously or coughing). Curl the chest off the ground, with core activation. Repeat this movement 10 times/side three times daily. Practise the brace throughout daily movements as well (such as lifting, bending, twisting) and notice a decrease in low back discomfort.
photo: Supplied

About the author

Contributor

Kathlyn Hossack runs a clinical practice, Integrative Movement in Winnipeg, Manitoba and consults clients throughout Alberta on a regular basis. For questions or consultations email her at [email protected].

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