The Southeastern Spine Institute

A recent study found that being a waiter or waitress is one of the most stressful jobs you can have. If you’re in this profession, you have a higher risk of developing health problems like heart disease or stroke than people in other careers.

Another health issue many servers face is the risk of back problems. Working long shifts that require constant standing, walking, lifting and carrying puts a tremendous strain on your back. This physical stress can lead to long-term back problems that can be debilitating.

Protect Your Back!

While you can’t always avoid the long hours or frequent lifting, you can take steps to protect your back from injury. Follow some simple preventative back care tips so that you don’t develop back problems.

Back problems can develop immediately or in the future. To protect your back from injury, review these five preventative back care measures:

1. Exercise

Keep your back strong by exercising regularly. Doing sit-ups and crunches strengthen your abdominal muscles and your back muscles. Back stretches also keep your back flexible.

If you’re already experiencing back pain, talk to your spine specialist at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) before starting a new exercise routine. One option worth considering is aquatic exercise, which strengthens your back without the strain of traditional back exercises.

2. Reduce Stress

Another useful preventative back care tip is to reduce stress. If you suffer from high levels of anxiety, you’ll have a greater risk of developing back problems. Everything is connected when it comes to your health.

Get adequate amounts of sleep, sometimes difficult for waiters and waitresses who work double-shifts. Try other stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga and nature walks.

3. Avoid Poor Eating Habits

Stress causes people to overeat or make poor food choices. These bad habits can lead to weight problems. Being overweight puts extra strain on your back, so maintain a healthy diet when you can.

When planning your diet, make sure you’re meeting your daily recommended nutritional requirements. Calcium and vitamin D in particular help you maintain good back health. Ask your SSI doctor for appropriate dosages for you.

Calcium strengthens the bones in your back, while vitamin D makes your body more efficient for absorbing the calcium. Green leafy vegetables, dairy products

and salmon are good sources for calcium. Egg yolks and grain products are rich in vitamin D.

4. Don’t Smoke

Cigarette smoking and vaping are common habits among waiters and waitresses, but smoking can damage your bones. Research shows that smoking constricts and damages blood vessels in your spinal column. It’s not just cancer you have to watch out for.

If you smoke, quitting is a good preventative back care measure that supports your long-term back health. Keeping your back healthy, therefore, is one more reason for you to quit.

5. Use Proper Posture

For preventative back care that takes just a conscious thought, maintain proper posture during your shift — and when you’re off work. Avoid slouching when seated and stand up straight when walking.

Use your knees and legs to lift heavy objects. When carrying them, keep your back straight. Carrying things closer to the center of your body reduces unnecessary strain to your back.