Low back discomfort is a regular and negative side effect of being a law enforcement officer.
Studies show that 62% of all law enforcement officers suffer from low back pain, but that only 9% of them had back problems before joining the force.
Occupational hazards that contribute to low back pain and back injuries include the obvious: strenuous work, physical confrontation with suspects, and work-related injuries.
However, there are important factors that contribute to back pain and back injuries to law enforcement officers.
Here are some of the most common causes of low back pain for police officers, and how to avoid them.
Causes and remedies for police officers with back pain
Sitting for long periods of time
Officers spend a lot of time in their cruisers, up to several hours at a time. While police cruisers appear to be comfortable vehicles, they are not meant for lengthy periods of sitting and leave the lower back unsupported. This puts a lot of strain on the lower back, which can cause pain and discomfort.
Whether you are sitting at a desk or behind the wheel of your patrol car, make sure you take time to stand up and walk around.
Standing for long periods
Endurance, such as standing or jogging for lengthy periods of time, is an aspect of a police officer’s duty. Standing for long periods of time, whether it’s to keep you safe at events or to patrol a neighborhood on foot, can cause tiredness and damage to the spine, as well as pain.
Every morning, spend 10 minutes stretching your back by raising your arms above your head and pointing your toes down. You can alternatively lay down and bring your knees to your chest one by one, holding for five seconds on each side.
Whether your problem is sitting or standing for long periods, a chiropractor can help you maintain your spine, keeping it aligned and preventing slight problems from becoming larger ones.
Late night shifts
A police officer works a variety of shifts, and believe it or not, working late at night and not getting enough sleep can have a significant impact on spine health, resulting in pain.
While police officers can’t control the long hours they work and the changes in shift, you can make conscious decisions that contribute to your overall health and wellness.
As we have had a chance to discuss in this article, ensuring that your maintain proper weight, eat health foods, and keep track of your emotional wellness are important steps toward mitigating the effects that late night and long shifts can have on your back.
Law enforcement duty gear can cause back pain
Your Sam Browne can be a major reason for your back pain: Heavy law enforcement duty gear is generally considered a primary contributor to police officers’ back pain.
Make sure you choose the lightest possible gear available. Hero’s Pride AIRTEK line of duty gear, for example, is designed to be 30% lighter than the competition, and includes items like belt, mag holder, handcuff holder, collapsible baton holder, and more.
Wearing a duty belt can impair posture and induce pelvic imbalances due to the uneven weight distribution of all that gear. An officer may adjust their body weight from side to side, back to front, or sit in strange positions to compensate for the uneven weight of the gear. Poor posture, weariness, stress on the spine, discs, and muscles, and back discomfort are all symptoms of this compensatory behavior.
Reposition your gear on the duty belt, if possible, to produce a more balanced weight distribution. Pressure points, pain, and excessive friction should all be avoided. Be aware of how your belt and duty gear will affect how you sit in your patrol vehicle.
Daily back injury avoidance
The first step in preventing both immediate injury and the development of chronic pain is to practice injury avoidance on a regular basis. Officers should continue to develop their skills even after graduating from the police academy.
Refresh your safe defensive tactics on a regular basis. Wrestling with a suspect or performing a take-down might result in tendon or muscle injuries, especially if these actions are not regularly rehearsed.
Properly align your spine when lifting heavy objects (including suspects).
Lifting boxes of evidence or maneuvering someone into a patrol vehicle can be done with the legs. Maintain an active core.
Maintain proper posture while sitting. It’s simple to slouch while on patrol in a car. Keep your core engaged and both feet firmly planted on the ground. Keep your weight properly spread over both hips when walking or standing to secure an area.
To avoid back pain and back injuries, prevention is key, for any police officer. The best thing to prevent these types of injury is to stretch and keep those soft tissue structures as mobile as possible.
If an injury is in progress, you must listen to your body.
Even minor aggravations should be addressed. Find out why a certain part of your body is consistently uncomfortable after a shift. When doing interviews, it could be the way you sit, the way your belt hangs, or even the way you stand on one leg. To avoid a worse problem, address these issues as soon as possible.