How to Prevent Back Pain

These articles are for general information only and are not medical advice. Full Disclaimer. All articles compliments of the AAOS.

Four out of five adults will experience significant low back pain sometime during their life. Work-related back injuries are the nation’s number one occupational hazard, but you could suffer back pain from activities at home and at play, too.

Are you at risk?

You are most at risk for back pain if:

  • Your job requires frequent bending and lifting
  • You must twist your body when lifting and carrying an object
  • You must lift and carry in a hurry
  • You are overweight
  • You do not exercise regularly or do not engage in recreational activities
  • You smoke

If you are a caregiver for an ill or injured family member, you are at greatest risk for back pain when:

  • Pulling the person who is reclining in bed into a sitting position
  • Transferring the person from the bed to a chair
  • Leaning over the person for long periods of time

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has developed tips to help you reduce your risk of back pain. Whether you are lifting and moving a person or a heavy object, the guidelines are the same.

  • Plan ahead what you want to do and don’t be in a hurry
  • Spread your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support
  • Bend your knees
  • Tighten your stomach muscles
  • Position the person or object close to your body before lifting
  • Lift with your leg muscles. Never lift an object by keeping your legs stiff, while bending over it
  • Avoid twisting your body; instead, point your toes in the direction you want to move and pivot in that direction
  • When placing an object on a high shelf, move close to the shelf. Do not stand far away and extend your arms with the object in your hands
  • Maintain the natural curve of your spine; don’t bend at your waist
  • When appropriate, use an assistive device such as a transfer belt, sliding board or draw sheet to move a person
  • Do not try to lift by yourself something that is too heavy or an awkward shape. Get help

How to prevent back pain

  • Use the correct lifting and moving techniques
  • Exercise regularly to keep the muscles that support your back strong and flexible
  • Don’t slouch; poor posture puts a strain on your lower back
  • Maintain your proper body weight to avoid straining your back muscles
  • Keep a positive attitude about your job and home life; studies show that persons who are unhappy at work or home tend to have more back problems and take longer to recover than persons who have a positive attitude

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