As some of you may already know, I work as a full time medical physicist at a hospital. A great deal of my work involves wearing lead aprons. If you have ever been to any kind of x-ray scans before, you will know that while these aprons are very useful in protecting our organs from x-rays, they are extremely heavy. Physicians, radiographers and medical physicists like me wear these almost every day.
As you can already imagine, these protective aprons have taken their toll on my back over time. For many years, the Society of Interventional Radiology has been conducting studies on the consequences of wearing these lead aprons. Their studies found that there is prevalence in Cardiologists, Orthopedists and Rheumatologists that suffer from “back pain, neck pain and sciatica” (Allan M. Ross et al. 1997). In this context, I would like to emphasize that these aprons are worn for several hours every day. Cardiologists for example wear these lead aprons for about 8.5 hours daily (Allan M. Ross et al. 1997).
The weight of a lead apron varies according to its size and make, but overall, lead aprons weigh anywhere around 7 to 13 pounds. There are also lighter aprons, which do not contain lead, but their effectiveness with regards to protection against x-rays is still discussed by many health practitioners.
How Yoga Can Help
Ever since I started practicing Yoga over 20 years ago, it has helped strengthen my neck and upper back in order to support the weight of these aprons better. As a consequence, my posture has significantly improved and with a few asana stretches throughout the day, I am able to wear lead aprons all day long, with almost no pain in my back.
Incorporating Asanas Into Your Daily Life
Over the years I have shown my colleagues at work how to eliminate pain and improve their posture by incorporating yoga exercises here and there. Whether you are also wearing or lifting heavy tools like me on a day to day basis or you are spending most of your day sitting at your desk (which is also detrimental to your back health!), try to stand up and do a warrior pose or the seated crescent moon pose every once in a while. It really does not take a lot of time and I know that might seem silly at first, but trust me, your back will thank you. And in my case, my colleagues started to become interested in what I was doing, so I taught them how to release tensions within their back and neck muscles.
During the week, we also like to meet up after work in order to wind down and stretch our muscles together. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have also seen that I started training in health yoga which specifically focuses on injuries and joint health. In my next blog posts, I will tell you guys more about how health yoga can help you in your daily life, especially in reducing stress and what I have learned from it.
Ross, A., Segal, J., Borenstein, D., Jenkins, E. and Cho, S. (1997). Prevalence of Spinal Disc Disease Among Interventional Cardiologists. The American Journal of Cardiology, 79 (1), 68-70
Dixon, Robert G. et al. Society of Interventional Radiology: Occupational Back and Neck Pain and the Interventional Radiologist. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 28 (2), 195 – 199