Back Pain Risk Factors & Tips22.09.2008
by Life Enthusiast Staff
Preventing Back Injury
The way you stand, sit and move, reach over and pick up or carry objects all affect the well being of the back. Here are some tips for helping prevent back injury.
Always bend your knees when lifting heavy objects. The large muscles in your thighs and buttocks are far better equipped to bear heavy loads than the smaller muscles of your back.
Carry objects close to your body
Holding heavy objects (such as a large vase of flowers) away from the body is inviting back injury. Make sure that you hold heavy objects close to your torso when lifting. Twisting your body while pulling or lifting is a primary cause of back injury. Always keep your body straight when carrying, pulling, or reaching for an object.
Watch your golf swing
The twisting motion employed by golfers often leads to back injury. The invertebral disks (the cartilagenous shock absorbers that separate the bones of the spine) are injury-prone zones for golfers. The disk is most vulnerable when the back is extended or arched, and the body is rotated. With an improper or overly-strenuous swing, the covering of the disk unwinds and tears.
Warming up and stretching before golfing will help you avoid disk injury. When swinging your club, do so gently, trying to keep your shoulders and chest centered over your pelvis.
Be careful exiting cars
When exiting a car, turn your whole body to the side. Place both feet on the ground and stand up carefully. Reverse the procedure when entering a car. First, sit down, then swing both legs in together so that you do not twist your back.
The human spine as not designed to maintain a sitting position for long periods of time. Driving, working at your desk, spending time on a plane, sitting at the computer, and watching sports are all activities that can lead to back pain. The best way to avoid back strain is to get up every fifteen minutes or so and walk around. (If you are driving, pull over whenever convenient to stretch your legs.)
If you sit for long periods at work, invest in a well-designed chair that supports your back and allows you to change positions easily. A cushion tucked behind your back while driving will help provide support and comfort.
Exercising regularly will help you avoid the strains and stresses associated with weakened back muscles. Swimming, low-impact aerobics and walking will help tighten the muscles of the back and abdomen. Local recreation centers and other fitness organizations usually run exercise programs specially designed for people wishing to control back pain.
Cope with stress
Research shows that people who respond to stress by becoming anxious are far more likely to develop stress-related physical symptoms such as back pain. If you are prone to anxiety, explore the many techniques to help you manage stress effectively. Your doctor, library, and the Internet are good sources of information.
Living a sedentary lifestyle, being in an occupation (or having a hobby) that requires lifting, bending and/or twisting, and mismanaging stress are all risk factors for back problems. People who sit for long periods also run the risk of straining the back when rising or moving from a seated position.
Warehouse workers, long-distance drivers, cyclists (whether recreational or occupational), golfers, computer operators, nurses and gardeners/groundspeople all have more incidence of lower back disorders than the general population. Smokers are at higher risk for back problems, perhaps because smoking decreases blood circulation. This could however be due to an unhealthy lifestyle in general.