The Do's and Don'ts of Back Care
By Aarti Patel
Did you know that about 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at some point in their
lives? Did you know that back pain is the most commonly reported health condition? And did
you know that, as the American Chiropractic Association points out, half the number of working
Americans report having back pain symptoms each year? Back pain can result from poor
posture, a lumbar injury such as a sprain or a strain, or even a ruptured disc. Sometimes, factors
such as improper care, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and aging may contribute to injuries.
As we age, our muscular strength and elasticity decreases along with the strength of our
ligaments. Smoking impairs blood flow, restricting the flow of nutrients to the spine.
Even though back problems are common in middle age, overweight young people who are not in
good condition can also be prone to back injuries and pain. Being overweight causes the pelvis to
tilt forward, putting added pressure on the spine and contributing to back pain. Weak abdominals
can also contribute to back injuries by not providing the adequate protection and support that the
Exercise proper back care to prevent injuries. To keep your back strong and healthy keep these
do's and don'ts in mind:
Do begin an exercise program that includes weight training: Weight bearing exercises strengthen
muscles and provide a strong support for the spine, reducing the chances of back injury. Losing
weight and dropping inches around the waist can reduce the pressure off your lower back.
Do maintain good posture at all times: This is important if your job requires you to sit most of
the day. Sitting for a long period of time puts a strain on the back ligaments and discs. Do get up
and walk frequently. When sitting, do sit with your back straight, shoulders back and head up.
Don't slouch with a rounded back.
Do lift objects correctly: Squat to lift an object rather then bending over. Don't use your back
when lifting. Let your thigh muscles do the work of lifting instead of your back. Do avoid
twisting and jerking movements when lifting objects. A common mistake is to reach for
something in the back seat of the car when you're in the front seat. Avoid this at all cost.
Don't be a weekend warrior when it comes to sports: If you enjoy basketball, volley ball, cricket,
golf or any other sports activity that requires twisting, jumping and/or bending, do keep yourself
in good physical shape to play. Weekend warriors who play a competitive sport once a week or
on weekends set themselves up for back injury due to weak unconditioned muscles.
Women do take note! Don't wear high heel shoes for a long period of time, as it adds stress to the
low back. When standing to complete a task, place one foot on a box so that it will take the
pressure off the lower back.
Finally, remember that back injuries and pain can be prevented first and foremost by
strengthening muscles and using good posture and lifting techniques. However, if you do suspect
a back injury, don't be a slouch and do see your health care practitioner to receive the appropriate
NEXT MONTH: Back exercises you can perform at home to strengthen your back!
Published by Khabar Magazine, Health Watch section October 2007 issue.