Criticism On the Job May Lead To Low Back Pain

On-the-job criticism may hurt your back as well as your feelings,\r\naccording to researchers.

On-the-job criticism may hurt your back as well as your feelings, according to researchers.

A study found that workers who are subjected to criticism when carrying out physical tasks on the job may be more likely to injure themselves.

Drs. William Marras and Catherine Heaney of Ohio State University in Columbus and colleagues evaluated 25 college student volunteers.

The students, wearing a device that monitors motion and measures stresses on the spine, were asked to lift a 25-pound box under different emotional circumstances.

The findings are published in the Dec. 1 issue of the journal Spine.

During the first session, the students were encouraged by the researcher with accolades such as, "Good job!" and "Way to go!"

Later, the students were led to believe that they were not lifting properly and were criticized with statements like, "You can do better than that" and "What happened this time?"

After each lift, the students had their blood pressure and heart rate measured.

All but two of the students had an increase in blood pressure during the second half of the experiment, suggesting they were stressed.

The authors reported that introverted participants had an increase in spinal compression by as much as 14 percent and an increase of sideways forces on the spine by 27 percent during the negative comments.

Extroverts, on the other hand, were impacted only slightly by the negative comments.

"The criticism just rolled right off the extroverts, but introverts changed the way they used their muscles, so that lifting became much more mechanically stressful," said Marras.

"Sometimes, work isn''t physically demanding, but psychologically demanding," noted Heaney. "We found that psychological stress seems to amplify the physical demands of lifting for certain personality types."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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