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Back Pain- Don’t Take it Lying Down.

By Brenna Hill

During the school year, I work part-time at Subway, a very typical student job. Doing dishes, reaching for food while making sandwiches, bending down to get something from under the counter and reaching up to get something off the back shelf are all common things I do during a shift. Twisting, reaching, lifting and bending, yet I never really think about how my back is reacting to all of this pressure. 

My part-time job is a pain in my back!
The first time I experienced any back pain, it was after a long and busy shift with a lot of dishes to do. I had just finished putting the last of the dishes on the drying racks and stood up straight. It wasn’t necessarily pain that started, but definitely a discomfort in my lower back. Of course, I ignored it because I was a teenager and I was resilient; besides, there was no getting out of dishes at Subway, everyone has to do their share. 

I’m young, there’s no way I can have back pain as a teenager, right?
Wrong. Back pain can happen at any age, it is just more common in older people because they have had more wear and tear throughout the years. Things like not lifting stuff properly, or having bad posture could cause back pain. Even something as simple as a heavy backpack (which let’s be honest, with all those text books teachers expect you to bring to class, is extremely common) can be hurtful.

Three years later…
It’s now been three years since I first started having back discomfort and trust me, it doesn’t fix itself. After many years of doing dishes (five and a half years to be exact), I have figured out how to keep my discomfort at bay by doing dishes in sections throughout my shift instead of all at once at the end.  I have also learned not to carry my text books in my back pack if I don’t need them that day at school.  If I do need them, I get them from my car or locker before class starts. No need to add 10 pounds to my back for the day!

One of the Subways I work at.

One of the Subways I work at.

How can you avoid back pain?
Simple things can help you avoid back pain or keep your back pain in check:

  • When lifting things, make sure to use proper lifting form.
  • When sitting, keep your back straight and shoulder back.
  • Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach; sleeping with your head twisted puts pressure on your neck.
  • Try using ergonomics in your workplace.
  • Most importantly, stay active. Stretch, walk, swim or try yoga. Staying active keeps your back limber and your pain at bay.

If I had talked to my boss about my back pain when it had started we could have come up with a solution sooner, possibly avoiding my annoying back pain and helping my fellow co-workers avoid potential pain as well.

For more information on back pain and how you can avoid it, visit

Is your job a pain in your back? Leave a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAb.

2 Responses to “Back Pain- Don’t Take it Lying Down.”

  1. Wearing proper footwear also will help with avoiding back pain as well as possibly preventing a slip and fall accident.

  2. Employers need to train employees in how to lift items properly, and how to recognize if an object is too heavy for one person, which requires a lift buddy to help out. In addition to proper training, there are a plethora of back braces and other workplace safety gear items that can help reduce back strain and keep good posture when on the job.

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