How Police Officers Can Avoid Back Pain

According to The Journal of Criminal Justice Research, 86% of police officers experience lower back pain, but only 8% reported having it before joining the police force.
Back pain is a relevant problem for many working professionals, no matter the industry. Causes for back pain can include anything from injury, heavy lifting to even uncomfortable seating. For police officers, back pain comes from the nature of their work: sitting for long periods of time during patrol work, wearing a heavy duty belt (which often presses on the lower back while sitting), and twisting to reach a laptop while inside the car.

According to The Journal of Criminal Justice Research, 86% of police officers experience lower back pain, but only 8% reported having it before joining the police force. While it does seem to be a direct consequence of job, police officers can alleviate back pain in its early stages or even prevent it from happening as a whole. We recommend following these simple tips:

1. Avoid repetitive motion
Lower back pain can come from repetitive movements. If you can track something you do on a regular basis (i.e. twisting towards the laptop) to pain, try to modify this motion, if not avoid it as a whole.

2. Stretch
Make sure to do back stretches regularly to release stress. Start in the morning by laying down on the bed and stretching your arms and legs as much as possible. Tighten your abdomen and press your hips into the bed several times to wake up your lower back. Finally, bring your knees to your chest and rock back and forth and side to side for a couple minutes.

While on duty, avoid sitting for long periods of time. Get up and do standing stretches every hour or so. If your day involves a lot of walking or standing, try lifting your feet or placing them on a small stool (or sidewalk) one at a time. When your foot is lifted, the muscles in the pelvis and front of the thigh relax.

3. Back support – suspenders and comfortable seating
A heavy duty belt is considered one of the primary causes of lower back pain in police officers. Support your back by alleviating the weight of the belt by wearing suspenders. While sitting, maintain proper posture to take the stress off the lower vertebrae and relax the muscles. Try using a mat or a posture support tool in the car. According to police officers who’ve used it, it only took a day to get used to and in 3 weeks the pain was almost non-existent. Any back support system is a simple solution to a painful problem.

4. Exercise well and often
To provide proper support for the spine, it’s important to exercise muscles in the abdomen, legs and back. Exercises can be done at home, in the gym or even while on duty. They range from from simple flexing to doing squats against a wall. Mobilizing the joins using stretches and cycling can be especially beneficial. Lastly, non-jarring aerobic exercises such as swimming can also help cardiovascular health without contributing to the back pain.

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Actual BackShield testimonial:
“Worked great in my patrol car. I suffer from intermittent lower back pain due to a ruptured disk. I am a police officer and the gear I wear sometimes causes pain. I was having a bout of especially bad pain and tried out the BackShield in my patrol car. I could almost immediately tell a difference. I used it for a full shift at first. It took a little getting used to because it causes you to sit about 1/2 inch forward in the seat. I wasn’t sure if I would get used to that but by the second shift it was no longer an issue. I used the BackShield for about 3 weeks until my back had recovered. Overall I was impressed with how well this worked to diminish my discomfort sitting in my car for long periods. The BackShield seems to be well made. The elastic straps did a good job of keeping it in place as I got in and out of the car. I don’t think I ever had to fight with it shifting around.” — Ed Green, Oregon State Patrol