Accounting for more than 75% of the most common complaints heard from patients, back pain is the leading topic for methods of prevention and treatment.* Fortunately, there are many steps YOU can take to ease back pain or avoid it altogether. Compiled from a variety of helpful resources, here is an easy-to-follow ‘top five’ list of tips to keep you and your back as healthy as possible:
When lifting any object, test its weight first. Then, be sure to bend at the knees and hips to avoid adding strain to your lower back. In general, keep your back as straight as possible and try not to twist your body.
At the workplace, adjust your chair so that your hips are even with (or slightly above) your knees. This should maintain a straight back with only a small arch. If using a computer, make sure your shoulders and elbows are in a relaxed position, with your wrists bent as little as possible.
When sitting or standing for long periods of time, take a break and stretch as often as you can. This will ensure a shift in position as well as a looser back. Also, try to maintain good posture no matter what position you’re in throughout the day.
Regarding sleep, a firm mattress is typically recommended, and the best position is one your side with bent knees. (Many will place an additional pillow between the knees for added comfort.) If you sleep on your back, use small pillows under your knees and lower back. Try not to sleep on your stomach as much as possible.
Exercise regularly including specific stretches for your back. Here’s an easy one: lie on your back flat on the floor with your knees bent. Then slowly raise one knee to your chest and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise with both legs at a count of ten each. This is a simple and effective way to gently stretch your back muscles.
NOTE: Please remember that these are only general suggestions. For specific complaints and treatments, always consult a health practitioner.
*Shekelle et al. Ann Intern Med 1998