Back pain is very common, but also extremely painful. It is credited as the second most common reason for doctor’s office visits and affects nearly 60 to 80 percent of Americans (Source: University of Maryland Medical Center). Most cases of back pain are not serious and will go away on their own within a few days. But why not prevent back pain before it begins? Follow these steps to protect your back and decrease the likelihood of developing a painful injury.
Practice Proper Lifting
Proper lifting technique is extremely important in protecting your back against injury. Follow these guidelines when lifting objects off the ground:
- Stand close to the object and place your feet about shoulder width apart
- Squat down towards the object, bending at the knees and hips. Keep your back aligned.
- Engage your abdominal muscles
- Lift with your legs as you stand up. Be careful not to twist as you are lifting.
- If you are lifting with a partner, lift together in unison
Push Objects Instead of Pulling
When moving a large object, always try to push instead of pull. Pushing allows you to engage your abdominal muscles, which stabilizes your back and protects against injury. Pulling makes it more difficult to flex your abdominals and places extra stress on your back.
Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
Sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause back pain. If your job requires you to sit or stand for prolonged periods, take these steps to support your back throughout the day.
If you spend most of the day seated:
- Sit in a quality chair that provides adequate support, specifically in the lumbar region
- Sit so your knees are level with your hips and your feet rest flat on the floor
- Sit up straight and close to your work to avoid leaning or hunching over
- Take frequent breaks to stand, stretch or walk around
If you spend most of the day standing:
- Wear quality shoes that provide support and cushioning
- Stand on a soft surface
- Change your position frequently
- Give your back a break by resting one leg on a stool or chair (Source: WebMD)
Back pain may be common, but by following guidelines for back safety, you can greatly reduce your risk of an injury. If you do experience back pain, rest and over-the-counter medication should provide adequate relief. If back pain persists for more than six weeks, consult your doctor. Further investigation may be required to determine the underlying cause.