Have you ever enthusiastically agreed to help a pal by carrying a bulky item only to strain your back in the process? According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain and injury are so common that 80 percent of all Americans will experience one or the other in their lifetimes. Protect your back by following our everyday tips for a reduced risk of back injury.
Focusing on proper posture strengthens your back throughout the day. Sit in a chair that provides good low back support. Keep your back upright, in a slightly arched position, with your head lifted and shoulders back. Maintain a work surface at proper height as well; you shouldn’t lean far forward or look downward. As a good rule of thumb, keep the bottom of your computer monitor at eye level.
Regular stretching combats back pain and injury by relieving the stress and tension that come from maintaining the same position for many hours. “Start the day with a smile, be thankful for another day on earth, do some stretching before springing up out of bed.” Stretching periodically—as often as once an hour during your work day —helps keep your back in great shape.
If you’re like most people, you rarely think about protecting your back while you’re sleeping, but you should. Consider replacing a mattress more than 10 years old with a new, more supportive one. Use pillows strategically to maintain proper spinal alignment, avoiding keeping your head turned to one side or tilted in a chin to chest position.
We all lift or move heavy objects occasionally. Next time, be more aware of back protection while you do it. The most common lower back injury comes from bending forward and twisting the spine at the same time, especially with the added stress of lifting an object, picture that coupled motion of bending and twisting like wringing out a wet towel. That’s not something we want to do to our backs.
Keep these helpful heavy lifting tips in mind:
- Plan ahead and make sure you have a clear walkway
- Hold items close to your body
- Lift with bended knees and abdominal muscles pulled in
- Look up while lifting
- If an object is too heavy or awkward, ask for help