Bending over a counter for hours and chopping vegetables. Moving heavy boxes of frozen meat into the kitchen. Lifting clumsy trays of food and carrying them to diners. It’s no wond...
Stop Paying a High Price for Low Back Pain
Bending over a counter for hours and chopping vegetables. Moving heavy boxes of frozen meat into the kitchen. Lifting clumsy trays of food and carrying them to diners. It’s no wonder that foodservice workers have a higher incidence of lower back pain than the general population.
The Crippling Cost of Back Pain
And the general population’s numbers already are pretty high:
- One in every two people will experience back pain severe enough to be aware of it
- In 2004 (the latest figures available) 45% of Americans saw a doctor because they had back problems—up from 32% in 1998
- 25.9 million people lost an average of 7.2 work days from back pain that year
- The estimated cost for treating back pain was $193.9 billion
- The annual indirect cost for lost wages was $22.4 billion
A recent study of more than 900 restaurant workers (ages 22 to 45) revealed that 53% of them have pain in their lower backs and waists. They reported this as their most intense pain: worse than in their shoulders and necks, and fingers and wrists. In addition, 65% of people still had pain within two hours of finishing work, and 16% were awakened from sleep by back pain.
You don’t want your employees to suffer. And you also don’t want to pay higher health care expenses as their conditions get worse. According to UnitedHealthcare research, back pain could be costing about $14.80-16.00 per member per year—and growing 8% to 10% annually.
Stretch Out Your Day
Here are two quick and easy stretches employees can do that focus on strengthening their lower backs and reducing the chances of pain there.
Seated Lower Back Rotational Stretch: Sit on a stool or armless chair. Cross your right leg over your left. Brace your left elbow against the outside of your right knee while twisting and stretching your right side. Hold for five deep breaths. Then repeat with the opposite leg and arm.
Seated Lumbar Stretch: Sit in a chair with your upper back straight. Then arch your lower back so your stomach sticks out. Put your hands on the bottom or back of the chair to brace yourself. Hold for five deep breaths and then relax. Arch your neck back for an added range of motion and intensity.
Get the Right Information
Acute back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Chronic back pain extends beyond this — making it clear that a back problem isn’t healing. When employees aren’t sure what to do about back pain, UnitedHealthcare’s NurseLineSM is a great place to start. They can speak with master’s-level specialists and registered nurses 24/7/365 over the telephone. After explaining their symptoms, they can be directed to websites for more background, and receive information and support on their next steps.
Take Action Now
Start creating a measurable improvement in your expenses—and your employees’ health! For more complete information on wellness and how you can help your employees improve their wellbeing, call 800-293-0105.