Tips to Prevent Back Pain
Tips to Prevent Back Pain
By Brennan Howe
What you can do to prevent and injuries and, if you do
sustain them, what can be done to promote the healing process?
Though the focus here is on what can be done on an individual basis,
it must always be remembered that there is no replacement for
consultation with a qualified physician. 80 percent of the
adult population suffers from at some point in their
lives, so, whether it’s you of somebody you care for, it is useful
to have some techniques at hand for treating it.
The good news about is that is usually goes away on its
own over time. The vast majority of it comes from simply
straining muscles and joints at levels they are not designed to
withstand, which leads into the first recommendation:
Slow Down. In most cases a few days worth of reducing the
normal load you put on your back in enough. A strained back
muscle may cramp or “freeze,” which causes acute discomfort.
Given time to mend, however, the muscle will began to relax and the
body’s natural healing processes will commence.
Over-The-Counter-Medications. In response to an injury a body
part may become inflamed, which you will know by the signs of
swelling, pain, warmth, and redness. To achieve a measure of
pain relief and assist the healing process you can buy
over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen.
Acetominophen is another alternative. Though not an
anti-inflammatory drug, it does treat pain effectively and is easier
on the stomach.
Ice and Heat. During the first 48 hours after a back injury
ice slows down the swelling process and acts to reduce the pain.
After 48 hours, however, it loses these abilities. This is when your
switch to heat, as in the form of a heating pad. This
increases the blood flow to recovering tissue and relaxes the
Massage. Be it done by a friend or family member with a nice
touch or a professional, a massage can relax strained muscles and,
just as importantly, a strained psyche that is causing back muscles
to tense up.
Keep Moving. When we are hurt instinct tells us to lay low and
keep movement to a minimum. Indeed, the traditional approach
to treating used to tell us exactly that. More
recent studies, however, have shown that careful movement does a
better job of promoting recovery than remaining still. Much
can be accomplished with simple exercises – provided you have
consulted with a specialist who can dispense advice and instructions
on what is best for you.
Change Your Routine. Though movement can help in the recovery
from a back injury, it is also important during this period to avoid
things that result in putting too much stress, be it physical or
psychological, on your healing back. Whether it is in
improving your posture in a chair, not lifting heavy objects, or
avoiding things that cause you aggravation, adapt your daily routine
to the requirements of your recovering back. Otherwise, there
is a pronounced risk of re-injury, a longer than necessary recovery
period, or an injury that does not heal properly and is vulnerable
to further damage.
Pain Management. For persistent or long lasting pain, refer to
the chapter on chronic pain for additional strategies.
The Simple Things
An encouraging thing about is that so much of it can be
avoided by simple cautionary measures, usually, in fact, by making
slight modifications to things we do every day.
When standing upright, your chest should be forward, your head up,
shoulders straight, and your weight even distributed between your
feet with your hips tucked in. If you have to remain standing
for long periods, avoid remaining in the same position for the
entire time. Be sure to move around and change positions
regularly. Another good idea is to rest one foot on a stool,
curb, etc. then switch to the other foot after a few minutes.
If your work requires you to perform tasks on a platform or desk
make sure to adjust it to a height that is comfortable for you.
Spending day after day hunched over while on your feet is almost a
sure recipe for back problems.
In today’s work world many of us have jobs that involve spending
most of our time in a seated position. The rule of thumb here
is to sit for as little as possible, and even then for only short
periods of time. Since this is not always possible, be sure to get
up and walk around frequently. Even a short stroll across a
room will help.
When in a seated position for long periods, sit with a support
positioned in the curve of your back. Nothing fancy, even a
firm pillow or a rolled up towel will do the trick. At the
same time, keep your hips and knees at right angles. If your
chair is too high for this, either replace the chair or get a stool
to rest your feet on. Otherwise keep both feet on the floor
and do not cross your legs.
The chair you use should be firm and have a high back and arm rests.
The problems with soft chairs or couches in that the curve in your
back is not supported and it can come to be in a rounded position,
which causes the kind of muscle and joint stress that leads to
When seated in a chair in front of a desk, make sure the different
pieces of furniture complement each other so that you can sit up
straight as you work, with your elbows and arms on your chair or
desk and your shoulders relaxed. Hunching or leaning over
should be avoided.
when getting out of a chair after sitting for a period of
time, be sure to stand up by straightening your legs, not bending at
the waist. Once in a standing position stretch your back by doing a
series of simple back bends.
Much of the same applies when driving in a seated position.
Support the curve of your back and be sure your seat is positioned
close enough to the wheel so that your knees can bend and your feet
reach the pedals without having to stretch for them.
The simplest thing to do is avoid lifting heavy objects, or those
whose size or shape make them awkward to move. Since lifting
cannot always be avoided, be sure not to lift with your back.
When grasping a object to be lifted have it close to your body with
your feet spread shoulder width apart and planted firmly on the
ground. Use your leg muscles to do the actual lifting, with
the simplest means of doing this being to start with your legs bent
so that you merely need to straighten your knees.
Once you have lifted the object, keep it in front of you and move
with small, slow steps. Instead of twisting, change direction
with your entire body coordinated together for the move. When
the object is set down, once again keep it close to your body and
let your legs do the work. Remember, the muscles in your legs
are a lot bigger and stronger than those in the lower back.
Many a back injury can be prevented by following an exercise program
that keeps the muscles strong and flexible. When designing your own,
do so with the aid of your physician, physical therapist, or a
Invest in a firm mattress and box spring that supports your body
without sagging. It is best to sleep in a position where the
curve in your back can be supported. Lying on one’s stomach on a
soft mattress is exactly the wrong thing to do for your back.
The sleeping method recommended by many experts in on your back with
three sources of support for your body: one below your lower back
that is fitted to the curve there, one below your knees that
supports them enough to take strain off the lower back, and a pillow
below your neck that, like the lower back support, conforms to the
natural curve found there and provides support.
Here are some other helpful healing strategies and tips for back
pain relief. Try one or more to see how they work in with your
Control your breathing slow and steady for a few minutes.
Focus on rhythmic, controlled breathing, holding inhaled breaths in
for about three seconds, then exhale and repeat to help redirect
focus from and allow the body to naturally respond on its
own. Repeat as needed throughout the say to help the body
Some helpful suggestions are:
Choose a comfortable position that takes the strain off your back
and is least painful for you. Some suggestions are:
On your back with your knees up, rest your lower legs over the coach
or a chair.
Lie in a fetal position on your side and place a pillow between your
When possible for back relief, rest for a couple of days. Find
a couple of your most comfortable breathing positions above and
alternatively use them throughout the day. From time to time,
every hour to couple hours or so, include these into your routine:
Get up and move around a little, walking and arching your back a
Add some light stretching activities like gently pulling knees, one
at a time, to your chest.
Light water / pool activity or aquatherapy
Light stationary bike riding or sitting in a comfortable chair for
Check with your local drug store pharmacist to see which pain
medications are available over-the-counter (OTC). Popular to
use are aspirin for overall pain relief, ibuprofin for a combination
anti-inflammatory and pain relief response like in the Advil, and
acetaminophen products like Tylenol. When selecting the type
of medication, keep in mind that liquid gel types absorb fasted into
your system. However, regardless of your choice, do follow the
directions on the labels, unless otherwise directed by your
physician, and follow the recommended dosage guidelines.
Check with your local pharmacist and health store to see which
liniments and ointments are available. Some popular items on
the market are BENGAY, Tiger Balm and Sportscreme; generally
products with a form of rubbing alcohol listed in the ingredients.
Ask about the availability of other remedies including
herbal treatments. Some health food stores stock packaged
herbal tablets, teas and other products. Be aware, though,
that most often these alternative products are not thoroughly tested
as OTC products are, nor can the contents be assured for safety,
quality and potency.
Here are some other relief strategies for you.
Place an ice pack on the pain area up to three times a day for about
12 minutes per session during the first two days of the onset of
Moist heat applied to the pain after one day can help sooth your
body. A warm washcloth or a heating pad for about 30 minutes should
do the trick.
After the first day or two, interchange your ice and heat solutions.
Heat is for mornings and before physical activity. Ice is for after
activities, and in the evening.
As your decreases, gradually increase your activity.
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