If your work involves heavy lifting, sitting at the computer for long stretches,
or driving far distances, you are at risk for low back pain. Take the following
steps and you may be less likely to develop back troubles.
- Use good posture at all times. This is important when you are standing
or sitting because the muscles in your back and the bones in your spine are
always working to keep your body upright.
- Take care when lifting. See Tips for How to Lift and Bend.
- Exercise regularly. Remember that finding the right balance is important.
Finding balance also means doing exercises that don't strain your back, like
swimming, walking, and cycling with proper seat adjustment. Always include
a warm up, back stretches, and cool down.
- Lose weight. Carrying extra pounds, especially around your waist,
puts additional stress on your spine.
- Quit smoking. Cigarettes put you at increased risk for back problems.
This may be because tobacco causes poor blood circulation. Or, it may be
because when you smoke, you are more likely to have other bad habits, like
- Sleep wisely. This means sleeping on your side, not your stomach,
on a firm mattress. If you are only comfortable sleeping on your back, use
a pillow under your knees for support.
- Learn to relax. Stress and unhappiness at home or work make it more
likely that you'll develop back pain. It is important, therefore, to practice
some form of relaxation regularly. Listen to calming music, meditate, or
do tai chi. See Reducing stress may be helpful.
- Consider a lumbar support belt. Sometimes, if you have had back
pain related to your job, it helps to wear a support belt while you are lifting
or performing the activities that bring on your back pain. The science about
this is controversial, meaning that it works for some and doesn't work for
others. Talk to your doctor about whether it is right for you. If you do
regular stretching and strengthening and you haven't had back pain in a long
time, it is probably not necessary to use such a belt.
Review Date: 4/6/2007
Reviewed By: Benjamin D. Roye, M.D., M.P.H., Orthopaedic Surgery, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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