Low back pain. It will happen to just about all of us sometime in our lives. But back pain can be prevented. Here are a few things you can do to keep your back healthy, strong and flexible — and help you avoid putting a kink in your life.
- Maintain good posture when sitting and standing. Don't slouch. When sitting, especially for a long time, keep your knees a bit higher than your hips and sit in a chair that has good low back support. If you can, change positions every so often or get up and stretch.
- Maintain a healthy weight by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising. If you're just beginning an exercise program, build your activity level gradually. And remember to stretch before exercising.
- Reach, lift and move heavy objects safely. Can't reach something that's over your head? Use a stool! Pushing is easier on your back than pulling, especially when you use your arms and legs to push instead of relying on your back. If you must lift, use your knees, not your back! Keep as close as possible to the object you need to lift and avoid twisting motions while lifting. And, if you can, ask for help with lifting or break up the loads into several smaller lifts.
- Quit smoking. Believe it or not, smokers are more likely to experience back pain than are nonsmokers. The reason? Nicotine restricts the blood flow to the discs in your back that cushion your vertebrae.
- Sleep with pillows under your knees. Placing a couple of pillows under your knees when lying on your back cuts the pressure on your back in half. Putting a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side also reduces pressure on your back.
- Wear the right kind of shoes. Look for comfortable shoes with low heels.
- When school is in session, prevent back strain caused by overloaded backpacks. Use both straps and make sure the backpack sits snugly on your shoulders. If you can, get one with wheels.
Created on 12/10/2009
Updated on 09/03/2013
- North American Spine Society. Knowyourback.org. Back pack safety.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Preventing back pain at work and home.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Low back pain.