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September 25, 2021

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Weekend doctor: Six steps to avoid back injury

Engaging in exercise three to five times per week is a great way to maintain physical fitness, good strength and flexibility

By Thomas Kindl, MD
Blanchard Valley Pain Management

Is your back pain becoming unbearable? You’re not alone! According to the National Institute of Health Statistics, lower back pain is the most common type of pain, affecting 8 out of every 10 adults during their lifetime. These numbers show the importance of learning to prevent back injuries so that you can stay healthy.

There are six key steps to avoiding back injuries at work or play.

The first is proper posture. When on your feet, stand straight and tall with your shoulders back. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your head in line with your body (think of balancing a book on your head). If you are sitting, make sure both of your feet can rest flat on the floor and don’t cross your legs. Your knees should be behind your ankles. Make sure your upper back and neck stay comfortably straight and that your shoulders are relaxed.

Next is pushing and pulling. Pushing is easier on your back than pulling.  While engaging in proper posture, pushing whenever possible will be helpful in preventing back injury.

Additionally, it is important to wear well-supported shoes like tennis shoes. Buying new a new pair of shoes often is a practical and proactive measure that can be taken. However, shoes with heels increase stress on your legs and back. Folks, you have permission to shop but pass up those stilettos!

Similarly, sitting in one position for a long period of time places increased stress on your back.  Getting up and moving, changing positions often and taking breaks from repetitive activities are steps you can take to prevent back pain.

Along with taking breaks, practicing good body mechanics for lifting is equally as important. Bend your knees, keep your back straight and keep the load close to your body.  If you must turn, pivot with your feet and do not twist your back.

Lastly, regular exercise promotes overall health. Engaging in exercise three to five times per week is a great way to maintain physical fitness, good strength and flexibility.