Affecting millions of Americans, back pain is among the most common medical problems. However, you don't have to live with back pain. Here are a few effective ways to prevent back pain from sidelining you this spring or any time of year.
Does your back hurt? You are not alone. After all, experts say 80 percent of Americans will suffer back pain at some point in their lives, with many injuries stemming from everyday activities like lifting, reaching and even sitting. Despite the chronic and seemingly unending pain, there are steps you can take to reduce and even prevent back pain. Simply follow these rules, courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Dropped something? When retrieving a light object off the floor, slightly bend one knee and extend the other leg behind you. For added support, hold onto a nearby chair or table as your reach down. For heavier objects, like a laundry basket or a bulky package, get as close as you can to the object, bend at the knees (not at your waist) and lift with your leg muscles. And when lugging luggage and heavy bags, save your back by distributing the weight evenly so you are not weighed down on one side.
WALKING TO PREVENT BACK PAIN
When hoisting a heavy item from one place to another, keep your knees slightly bent to maintain your balance. Point your toes in the direction you want to move, and turn your whole body by pivoting in that direction. To reduce strain on your back, keep the object close to you when walking.
When putting heavier items back on tall shelves, do not absent-mindedly reach up. Instead, give your back a solid base of support by spreading your feet in a wide stance, positioning one foot in front of the other. Tighten your stomach muscles for extra back support, and put the object in place by extending your arms. However, do not lean forward or fully extend your arms while reaching. Get a ladder or step-stool if you need it, but be sure you have a spotter and never stand on the top rung or climb with both hands full.
SITTING PRETTY TO PREVENT BACK PAIN
Once all of that spring cleaning is done, have a seat – you deserve it! But if you plan on sitting for an extended amount of time, get up once an hour to stand and stretch out your back and other muscles. Place your hands on your lower back and gently arch backward, straighten up and gently turn side to side. Also, be sure to choose a supportive chair that is aligned for your height (your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees at 90 degrees). Otherwise, you may be adding extra stress – and pain – to your lower back.
And speaking of stress, built up anxiety and emotional tension can also lead to nagging back pain. You tend to move with less fluidity when you are stressed, and that stiffness makes you more susceptible to get into awkward positions that can cause pain in your back. So take steps to rid yourself of anxiety and stress
this spring and all year 'round. Hopefully, your aching back will follow suit.
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