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Back Safety – Injury Prevention Tips

1. Exercise!

Incorporating an exercise program into your regular schedule will help strengthen your core while boosting your overall well-being – what more could you ask for?  There is no need to focus solely on core training; mix it up with aerobics and total body conditioning.  Ask a Personal Trainer at your gym about “functional training”; this form of training is a fun and effective way to target your core while continuing to develop total body strength, endurance and flexibility.  Lastly, don’t neglect the stretching component of your training – tight hips and thighs can lead to back pain.  Contact me for specific exercises/stretches.

2.  Use of proper form during lifts

You’ve all heard it before: “Lift with your legs, not your back”.  No need to reinvent the wheel on this one – you can’t make it more clear than that.  Your legs are powerhouse muscles that can support immense loads.  This doesn’t mean that your back is not strong, but the risk of injury is so much higher due to the great flexibility of the spine.  In its natural curvature, the spine can handle substantial external loads, but its integrity is severely compromised as the spine is rounded.  Therefore, when lifting objects make sure: 1) your feet are at least shoulder width apart (to increase stability), 2) bend at the knees and hips and keep your back straight (don’t hunch over), 3) contract your abs as you lift using your legs, and 4) keep the load tight to your body.

This ties into the aforementioned importance of a well conditioned and healthy body; a proper lift cannot be performed if one’s legs and core cannot support the external load.

3.  Don’t get too comfy

Avoid staying in one position for a prolonged time.  If you are seated for an hour or so, make sure to get up and stretch and go for a mini-walk; basically, just loosen up a bit.  If you are in the car for long periods of time, sit upright and consider lower back support.  Finally, be aware of your posture when you walk: keep your shoulders back and relaxed, chest out, chin tucked and eyes forward.

4.  Check your mattress and get enough sleep

If you currently suffer from back pain, it might be worthwhile to look into a new mattress.  Consult a chiropractor for specifics regarding this matter (as your sleeping posture may be the issue).  Also, make sure you sleep enough to allow your back (and total body for that matter) to recover completely from a full day of stress – rest up!