Tips for preventing back pain

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It is estimated that 4 out of 5 people experience some form of back pain - here are some tips on how you can help keep your back healthy and happy.

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Tips for preventing back pain

  1. 1. TIPS FOR PREVENTING BACKPAINEasy tweaks for home and work that can helpkeep your back healthy and happy
  2. 2. STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE Getting at least 20-30 minutes of moderate physical exercise at least 3-4 times a week will go a long way toward keeping your back healthy and strong, as well as improving your overall health and mental wellbeing, including reducing stress. TIPS: - Try to find an activity you enjoy so you’ll be more likely to keep it up – consider jogging, cycling, swimming, yoga, tennis, or anything else that appeals - Exercise doesn’t have to be done in a gym, or involve lots of sweat – try working bits of activity into your day by walking more or doing some gardening or housework
  3. 3. STRETCH AND MOVE REGULARLY Whether sitting or standing, staying immobile in one position for too long can have a negative effect on your back’s health. Shift your position regularly (at least every 30 minutes) and do some simple stretches to help maintain flexibility in your spine. For instance: - Lateral neck rotation – look to one side and then the other, holding for 3 seconds on each side (repeat 10 times) - Shoulder shrugs – raise and lower your shoulders (repeat 10 times) - Forward bend – slowly drop forward so your head and arms are hanging down, then slowly roll up through the spine - Leg lifts – while seated, straighten each leg in front of you and flex the foot, holding for a few seconds before releasing
  4. 4. WATCH YOUR POSTURE Especially if you sit a desk or computer all day, it is important not only to get up and move and stretch regularly, but to make sure your posture is not putting undue pressure on your back. TIPS: - Try to sit as straight as possible at your desk, with your buttocks against the back of your chair - Don’t hunch over or lean forward toward the desk for extended periods of time - Centre your weight on your hips – don’t tilt to one side - Take regular breaks to move and stretch – walk across the office to speak to a colleague rather than emailing, or go and make a cup of tea
  5. 5. CONSIDER AN ERGONOMICAL ASSESSMENTYour employer or HR department may be able to arrange for yourworkspace to be assessed ergonomically. This can help prevent thepositioning of your desk, chair and computer from contributing toback pain.TIPS:- Your chair should be high enough that your feet can rest flat on the floor, with your thighs horizontal or sloping slightly downward- The surface of your desk should be positioned just below the height of your elbows when seated so that you can comfortably rest your arms on it when your elbows are bent at 90 degrees- Your chair should support your back, especially your lower back, without pinching or digging in
  6. 6. DON’T FORGET YOUR COMPUTER Your computer should also be positioned so that you can use it comfortably; otherwise you risk repetitive stress injuries, including back pain. TIPS: - Adjust the height of your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is positioned at eye level and about an arm’s length away from you - Make sure that you can easily reach your keyboard and mouse without twisting your arms and body – you should be able to type with your wrists straight and your elbows at a 90-degree angle - Consider attaching your laptop to an external monitor, keyboard and/or mouse if using it for extended periods
  7. 7. MANAGE YOUR STRESS LEVELS Stress makes our muscles tense, which over a long period can contribute to back pain. It also tends to make us forget about taking breaks, moving and stretching. Try to keep your stress levels in check over extended periods of time. This can involve activities such as: - Scheduling regular breaks - Preserving a good work-life balance - Not working overly long hours - Breaking up repetitive tasks - Exercising regularly and getting enough sleep - Trying relaxation activities such as yoga, meditation, or massage - Getting any health concerns seen to promptly, or taking out individual health insurance to cover any treatments that may be necessary
  8. 8. LEARN TO LIFT CORRECTLY If your work or lifestyle involves lots of repetitive lifting, or you have to lift an object that is heavy or awkwardly shaped, with the weight unbalanced, it is important to take steps to protect your back. TIPS: - If possible, use manual handling aids (such as a cart or lift) or ask someone to help you - Bend from the knees, not the back – try to keep your back straight but relaxed - Stand on a stable surface while lifting, and keep the object’s weight close to your body - If lifting is part of your job, request that your employer or HR department arrange manual handling training to learn proper technique
  9. 9. FURTHER TIPSA common cause of back pain amongst women in particular iscarrying a heavy handbag always on one shoulder – this easilyunbalances the body and can create strain. Consider using anergonometric rucksack to more evenly distribute the load.You can also use a cushion or rolled towel to support your lower backwhile sitting, or between your knees while lying on your side.Exercises such as Pilates or moves performed on a Swiss exercise ballhelp to strengthen the core muscles that support your back.If you have to perform a repetitive motion for extended periods of time(for example, bending forward), make sure you counter this bothbefore and after by stretching your body in the opposite movement (forexample, gently arching the spine backwards).Visit www.backcare.org.uk for more info.

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