According to Roger Chou, M.D., an OSHU professor in Portland, Oregon, low back pain is currently impacting 540 million people worldwide and results in 2.7 million emergency visits in the U.S. each year. Back pain can be prevented, and the first line of defense is education. Here are 5 ways you can increase your chances of preventing back pain to yourself at home or work.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Extra pounds stress your back and can cause pain and result in more serious injuries. Staying fit is the most important recommendation for preventing back pain and injury. Eating a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables and watching your intake can contribute to a healthy weight. Walks are the best bang for your buck if you are looking for an entry level activity that will burn calories.
STRONG ABDOMINAL MUSCLES
Most of these tips are to prepare you for that one lift that strains your back and causes injury. When you lift, you can put excessive pressure on the spine. You can get back pain just from spine degeneration because you are asking the spine to do too much on its own. If you strengthen your abdominal muscles, you are providing the spine with more support. There are many core exercises that can be done without causing excessive strain on the back. Consult your physical therapist for proper exercise techniques.
Maintaining healthy flexibility is always a good idea, but you definitely want to do a little stretching before lifting. You want to warm those muscles up and get them ready to move. Stretching right before bedtime is a great idea. Simple stretches can be very effective and can be as easy as bending forward, bending back, and bending side to side. Check out our article 1 Easy Stretch to Help Prevent Back Pain.
GOOD POSTURE AWARENESS
The definition of a good standing posture is standing straight up with your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hip joints, and your hip joints over your ankles. If you do a lot of sitting throughout the day, make sure you have a chair that is designed to keep your back straight. It is easy to slouch for long periods of time; the key is awareness and practice being cognizant of the placement of your neck and spine. Want to learn more about posture? Click on these 5 Tips for Good Posture.
A majority of back pain and back strains occur when lifting. Most people have heard that you should bend at the knees when lifting. Bending your knees is good advice, but there’s more. Read our 6 tips to avoid back injuries when lifting.
These are 5 great ways to help prevent back pain or back injury. Always consult with your physical therapist. Physical therapy is a nonsurgical treatment as many causes of back pain can be treated without surgery. The Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland, OR favors this approach whenever possible.
If you are suffering from neck and back pain, Renew Physical Therapy can help. Visit our About Us page to learn more about our practice, clinic, and staff. Call us at 503.928.4914 to schedule an appointment.
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