Low Back Pain: What You Can Do continued...
Sit and stand safely. What are the positions you're in most of day? Whether at work or home, are you doing everything you can to protect your low back with good posture? You've heard it before, but it bears repeating: Good posture is critical. Sit or stand with your back aligned; imagine a line from your ears through your hips. Try to catch yourself when you're slouching.
Here are some other things to remember:
- Sit and drive as little as possible if back pain is acute. Avoid sitting on soft, low couches.
- Make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
- Use a chair with good lumbar support or use a pillow or rolled-up towel for support. Position your chair at the right height for your task. Rest your feet on a low stool.
- When getting up from a sitting position, scoot to the edge of your seat, get your feet directly underneath you, and stand. Avoid bending at the waist.
- When driving, make sure you've got good lumbar support. Position the seat so you maintain a curve in your low back and your hips are lower than your knees.
- When getting out of the car, support your back: Swing both legs out, don't twist. On long road trips, take regular breaks to walk around for a few minutes.
Lift and move safely. Change positions often. If you have a desk job, for example, be sure to get up, move around, and stretch every hour. Gently arch your back. Need a reminder to move? Set an alarm on your phone or computer. When doing activities like cleaning, weeding, or vacuuming, remember to keep the curve in your lower back as much as you can.
Whether you're lifting your child or a bag of groceries, use these lifting tips as a guide.
- Plan the lift and take your time.
- Get close to the load and test its weight before you lift. If you think it's too awkward or heavy, don't lift it. When the grocery checker asks if you want help to your car, swallow your pride and say yes. Or, at the very least, have the checker pack less in each bag.
- Put your feet shoulder width apart, tighten your stomach muscles, get a firm grasp, and lift with your legs, not your back. How do you do that? Bend at the knees, instead of your waist. That makes your legs do the work, not your low back. The muscles in your legs are larger and stronger than the muscles of the lower back.
- As you lift, keep your head in line with your back and don't twist or jerk. Don't sling your toddler up onto your hip! Point your toes in the direction you are moving. Then pivot. As you move, hold the object as close as you can to your body. This takes some stress off your back.
- When placing a child in a car seat, don't reach from outside the car. Squat and get as close to the seat as you can. If your child is old enough, have him or her climb into the car seat.
Avoid smoking. Does it seem like smoking has little to do with your back? You might be surprised. Smoking can contribute to reduced blood flow to your spine and cause it to age faster, putting you at greater risk for low back pain.
Eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight takes some of the strain off your lower back. Also, eating enough calcium and vitamin D helps promote bone strength.