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Preventing Back Pain

Life keeps us busy walking or running, sitting or lying down. There’s really no time to think about our backs that is… unless we get that dull pain that increases in intensity until we can no longer move. Or, we might make that one move at work that sends our back muscles into spasms. Americans spend about $50 billion each year trying to get rid of back pain.1

Before you get to the point of feeling that awful pain, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk.

    Before you start exercising, take a moment or two to stretch your back. This will help prevent injuries.

    Make sure your work environment supports a healthy posture. Slumping while sitting or standing can increase the risk of back pain.

    Wear comfortable shoes especially if you are engaged in a lot of standing or walking.

    If you smoke, quit. Cigarette smoke narrows the blood vessels that bring nutrients to the discs in your back. Smoking can increase the risk of spine disc degeneration.

    Don’t try to lift heavy objects by yourself. Get help. If no help is available, then lift carefully by bending your knees. Do not twist while lifting. Keep your feet spread apart to have a stronger foundation for lifting and keep the object close to your body.

    Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight on your stomach can increase the stress on back muscles.

    Exercise your stomach muscles to help support your back. Strong stomach muscles and leg muscles can minimize the strain on your back muscles.

    If you sit at the computer for long periods of time, get up and walk around for a minute. Stretch your muscles to help relieve stressors. Make sure you have a desk and chair that will help support your back.

If you have chronic back pain, get help and learn as much as you can. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke offers ideas and resources that can help.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Strokes
BRAIN
P.O. Box 5801
Bethesda, MD 20824
(800) 352-9424

Pamela A. Williams writes from Southern California.

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About Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

is a dietitian in Southern California.

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