Back Problems and Injuries (cont.)
There is no clear evidence that you can prevent back pain. But there are some things you can do that may help prevent it. And they can prepare you for faster recovery if you do have back pain.
- Exercise to keep your back healthy and strong. Exercise programs that include aerobic conditioning and strengthening exercises can help keep low back pain from coming back. For more information, see Pelvic Tilt Exercise.
- Fitness: Increasing Core Stability.
- Low Back Pain: Exercises to Reduce Pain.
- Learn how to lift objects safely to protect your back.
- Back Problems: Proper Lifting.
- Protect your back while sitting. Standing posture is also important. For most people, good posture means that when you stand, your ears, shoulders, hips, and knees should be in line with one another.
- Try different sleeping positions that protect your back. If you sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back, use a pillow under your knees. You can also try rolling up a small towel and using it to support your lower back.
- Practice good posture and body mechanics.
- Wear low-heeled shoes.
- Stay at a healthy weight to avoid excess strain on your lower back. For more information, see the topic Weight Management.
- If you're a smoker, quit. Smoking increases your risk of bone loss (osteoporosis) and increases your sensitivity to pain. Smoking also interferes with blood circulation by tightening the arteries, which makes it harder for blood to flow, and by decreasing the amount of oxygen the red blood cells can carry. Spinal discs don't have their own blood supply, but they receive nutrition in part from the blood supply to the vertebral bones above and below them. Decreased circulation may increase the speed of degeneration and/or slow the healing of the discs. For more information on how to quit, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet. Getting plenty of calcium and vitamin D may help prevent osteoporosis, which can lead to compression fractures and low back pain.
- Manage the stress in your life, both at home and at work.
Exercises to avoid
Some exercises actually increase the chances of causing of low back pain. Avoid:
- Straight-leg sit-ups.
- Bent-leg sit-ups during acute back pain (may be safe if back is kept in neutral position).
- Leg lifts (lifting both legs while lying on your back).
- Lifting heavy weights above the waist (military press or biceps curls while standing).
- Any stretching done while sitting with the legs in a V position.
- Toe touches while standing.
Work comfort and design
Most back problems that occur in the workplace are caused by physical stress, such as being in an awkward position for a long time, making the same motions over and over, and simply using your back too much. These injuries can cause stress and strain on muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, blood vessels, or spinal discs.
Arrange your work to help prevent work-related injuries. It is important to position yourself so that you can sit comfortably and minimize stress on any one area of your body. Change your positions and tasks as often as possible, and match tools to your size and preferences. If you are doing a job or task that requires you to sit for long periods, get up and stretch and move around at least once an hour.