Preventing Back Pain

by Lynn Jaffee and Shelley Conn

At one time or another 80 percent of Americans will experience some kind of back pain, and chances are that at one time or another, you will be among them.  Whether your pain is a nagging ache in your low back or stabbing pain and spasms that make even the slightest movement painful, there are some things that you can do to prevent the pain from occurring in the first place.  Among them:

-Lift correctly. Lift with your legs; keep your back straight and keep the object close to your body.  Don’t bend over what you are lifting and try not to twist or turn your body.  Always choose to push a heavy object rather than pulling.

-Get moving.  Regular exercise helps to strengthen your back and build flexibility.  Even regular walking is good for your back as it engages your core stabilizing (back and abdominal) muscles.

Stretch regularly. Before exercise or after a long day,  some simple back stretches can release tension and enhance your flexibility.

-Break it up. If you are driving long distances, stop regularly to stretch and give your back a rest.  If you’re a frequent flyer, get up and move around the plane to loosen up your back.

-How low can you go? Wear shoes with a heel that is one inch or lower.  High heels change the alignment of your back and contribute to back pain.

-Stand tall. If you stand a lot, rest one foot on a low stool, and alternate feet every 15 to 20 minutes.  This relieves pressure on your lower back.

-Check your posture.  Try to stand with your ears, shoulders and hips directly below one another.  Keep your head up (not pulled forward) and your stomach in

-Sleep well. The best sleeping position for your back is on your side with a small pillow between your knees.  If you’re a back sleeper, a pillow under you knees helps support the natural curvature of your back.

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