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 Back Pain  Holistic-online.com

Prevention

Improving your posture will help prevent many kinds of recurring back problems. First, analyze your posture by standing with your heels against a wall. Your calves, buttocks, shoulders, and the back of your head should touch the wall, and you should be able to slip your hand behind the small of your back. Then step forward and stand normally: if your posture changes, correct it right away. If you stand for long periods at work, wear flat shoes with good arch support and get a box or step about six inches high to rest one foot on from time to time. 

Other tips:

bulletRegular exercise such as swimming. 
bullet Make sure your chair supports the small of your back
bulletBuy backrests for car seats and a supportive mattress for your bed. 
bullet If lifting heavy objects, bend at the hips and knees, keeping your back straight.

The best way to prevent back pain is to stay active and to exercise. Your doctor or a physical therapist will advise you as to the proper exercises to keep the back strong and supple.

Rather than spending hours sitting or standing in one position, take regular breaks and move around. This simple activity can do wonders in helping strengthen the back.

Computer

With the increase in computer use, doctors report that more and more people are reporting neck and back pain. The main culprit in this case is the position of the computer display terminal. Locate your terminal so that it is in level with your idea when sitting upright. You should not have to bend down to look at the terminal. In many cases, you will have to elevate the terminal to accomplish this. Take occasional breaks from the computer use to stretch. Buy one of those funny looking "ergonomic" chair. It does help by keeping your back straight. Remember the idea is to keep the posture straight. Many people tend to sit stopped or bend that put lot of pressure on their spine and back.

Sitting

Most people spend long hours sitting. Make sure your chair correctly supports your body. A good chair bottom supports your hips comfortably but doesn't touch the backs of your knees. Your chair back should be set at an angle of about 10 degrees and should cradle the small of your back comfortably; if necessary, use a wedge-shaped cushion or lumbar pad. Avoid over-soft or bucket-shaped chairs. Very low chairs can be uncomfortable and difficult to get in and out of, as can chairs without arms. Your feet should rest flat on the floor. Your forearms should rest on your desk or work surface with your elbows almost at a right angle.

The best way to sit down is to stand in front of the chair with one foot slightly behind the other, almost under the chair. Bend your knees, and at the same time place your hands behind you to rest on the arms of the chair (or the seat, if the chair has no arms). Then lower yourself gently on to the chair. Placing a small, firm cushion - or rolled-up towel - at the small of the back gives vital support to the lower back area and encourages correct seating posture.

Beds

If you have an old or sagging mattress, put a board under it as a temporary measure. If the bed itself is causing problems, you can put the mattress on the floor. To prevent or minimize back pain at night, keep your spine in a neutral position. Don't prop your head and neck on a big pillow. Instead, choose one that keeps your head and neck in line with your upper back. Sleep only on your side or your back, but never on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach twists your neck and back. Also, avoid extremes in surfaces, such as saggy mattresses or bare floors. A good mattress and pillow will maintain your neck and back in the correct posture even while you sleep. Pillows between your knees or along your back or sides may provide further comfort to your back and shoulders.

Lifting

When you have to lift heavy objects, don't bend at the waist. Squat with your legs, keep your back upright as you grasp the object, and stand upright again. Let your legs do the lifting, not your back. A back brace may also give support and prevent back strain; its main benefit is that it won't let you bend over at the waist. Use a back brace sparingly: Long-term use can make you dependent on it and may eventually lead to weaker-not stronger-back muscles.

Learn the correct technique to lift. First stay as close as possible to the object you are going to pick up. The closer you stand to whatever you're picking up (a child, a bag of groceries or a box of office supplies) the less strain you put on your muscles. Here's the right technique. Beginning in a standing position, squat from your knees rather than bending from the waist to pick up the load. Plant your feet firmly in front of you, one foot slightly ahead. Once you have your arms around it, keep the load as close to your abdomen as possible while lifting and lowering. Use both of your hands so that you lift symmetrically. 

Lift first, turn second. We all have a natural tendency to do things that puts strain on our backs. For example: You grab a bag of groceries and turn to load them into the car--or lift an infant up and out of a crib--in one quick movement. Don't do it. Over time, twisting can lead to herniated disks. Instead, lift your load, hold it close to your abdomen, and then turn, using your feet to get you where you want to go instead of swiveling your hips.

Miscellaneous

Housework can put a great strain on backs. Take frequent breaks between chores.

When vacuuming, work in short stretches, keeping the vacuum cleaner close to your body and using short sweeps. Try alternating the arm you use, and make full use of the cleaner's accessories. Store the vacuum cleaner where it is easily reached.

Organize your cupboards so that everyday items are easy to reach. If you have to get something down from a high cupboard, use safe steps - do not overstretch.

Wet clothes are heavy. Always carry your laundry basket in front of you, not resting on one hip.

Try ironing sitting down, or resting one foot on a raised block or low stool. Don't stand for too long without changing position.

When making beds, kneel rather than stoop. Resist the temptation to do everything from one side of the bed by stretching over. Go to the other side!

Avoid clothes that restrict your mobility such as tight trousers. This can encourage bad posture and back stress. Avoid or minimize the use of high heel shoes. Low-heeled shoes can sometimes help with arch support, but more than 1/2 inches will misalign the curvature of your back, which can lead to back pain. If you must wear heels, save them for special occasions.

Wheel your belongings. Briefcases are heavy. So are big purses slung on shoulder straps. Dangling from one shoulder, those big loads create an unequal stress on your spine, which can hurt your back. You can do some common sense techniques to minimize back strain.

bulletCarry the minimum in a purse.
bulletUse a fanny pack or backpack
bulletUse a suitcase on wheels or use a luggage cart (a lightweight metal frame with wheels). 

Next Topic: Common Sense Recommendations

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