Back pain is a very common injury as the population becomes more sedentary at work and even at home. There are precautions you can take to help reduce the chance of a back strain or mild injury in your day to day activities.
Using your back correctly to avoid mechanical back pain
Bending, carrying and lifting items incorrectly, especially while twisting the spine increases the risk of mechanical back pain and injury. Your shoulders, knees and hips should be moving in the same direction when putting strain on the back muscles.
When loading and unloading at work or from your car and even from the shopping trolley to your vehicle, make sure you reduce the size of the loads you are lifting. Don’t stretch to reach for the shopping bags, bring them as close to your body as possible before lifting. Use your feet to turn your body from side to side instead of twisting your back. Ensure your back is straight and any lifting is done using your leg muscles and knees and not your lower back.
Sweeping and digging should be done using the right equipment and keeping your body facing forward, no side to side movements. Your feet and belly button should be facing in the same direction as your broom or spade. Move with your feet and use your arms to do most of the stretching. You can stretch with your back held straight as possible. Limit twisting and turning motions.
Getting out of bed should be done using smooth motions, no jerking. Roll onto your side and bring your knees up towards your body. While lifting your body into a sitting position, hang your legs over the edge of the bed. Position feet firmly on the floor, keep your back straight, then stand up.
Keep things smooth
Keep all of your daily movements smooth and place as little strain on your back as possible. Quick twisting and jerking motions pull the spine, tendons, ligaments and muscles in the back into awkward positions which can cause strains and back injuries.
Limit overuse of the back when exercising and keep your spine aligned as much as possible. Do not lift heavy items with your back or stretch further than your arms can reach to lift anything. Use your much stronger leg muscles when doing any lifting or flexing motions with your body. Employ your core muscles as well to take the strain off your back.
Eat healthy, quit bad habits and try and keep your weight manageable in order to reduce harm to your back and spine. Good habits can go a long way to reduce your risk of injury, strains and other pain inducing back injuries.
If you work in a job which requires lifting of heavy items, check if it is not possible to employ mechanical means to assist in lifting as far as possible. Forklifts, jacks, trolleys and other such items can reduce the amount of strain you force your back to bear on a daily basis.
Exercise and posture
Exercising your core muscle groups can help improve support to your spine and lower back. Using low impact cardiovascular exercises is recommended as these supply hydration and nutrition to the spine and back by improving blood flow to these areas. If you find daily exercise difficult to maintain, you can make small changes to your routine, such as taking the stairs, going for a lunchtime walk, standing instead of sitting and other mild habit changes to improve your core strength.
Improved posture can go a long way to reducing lower back pain. Bad posture can cause degeneration of your disks as well as place pressure on your back which causes pain. Sit up straight, use the best chair you can, to support your back. Stand up and walk around regularly and make it a habit to check your posture during the day. Some offices even provide stand up desks to assist with the reduction of back pain due to working at a desk all day.
When travelling by car or plane, make sure you take the time to stretch your body and spine to reduce the back pain caused from long periods in a seated position. Stop the car, get out, stretch, take a walk. As well as helping your back, this wakes you up and helps you concentrate on the road. On long haul flights, you are allowed to get up once the seat belt light is off and it is good practise to improve blood flow as well to take a short walk to stretch your muscles, even if it is just to the bathroom and back.
Practising safe movement and healthy habits will help reduce the risk of back injury and pain as far as possible.