Take Care of Your Back - PIH Health

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Published on March 03, 2016

Take Care of Your Back

Man with back pain at desk

Man with back pain at deskBeing mindful of your everyday activities can help save your back from injury and avoid or minimize back pain. While exercise is great for overall health, it is important to note that the wrong exercise can in fact increase back pain or injury.

Do’s and Don’ts

Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine. “High impact exercise can sometimes lead to back pain and problems,” says Daniel Kaplan MD. “Low impact exercise on the other hand, like walking, swimming and cycling, can be a very good option because it doesn’t strain the back when done correctly.”

Helpful Exercises:

  • Abdominal crunches: strengthen abdominal muscles
  • Stretching: helps alleviate tight back muscles
  • Pelvic tilt: also helps alleviate tight back muscles

Additional Helpful Tips:

  • Standing: keep your head up, stomach pulled in. If you have to stand for long periods of time, rest one foot on a stool.
  • Sitting: use chairs of appropriate height with lumbar support. Swivel chairs are best. Lower-back support for car seats is also recommended; use a small pillow or rolled towel behind the lumbar area.
  • Sleeping: although everyone has their own preference, experts recommend a medium-firm mattress.

What To Avoid:

  • Lifting: don’t lift items that are too heavy for you. When you do lift, keep the item close to your body, back straight, head up and lift with your legs.
  • High heels: they put stress on your lumbar muscle causing lower-back pain.
  • Remaining static: change positions, walk or stretch every 20 minutes to prevent discomfort, stress and diminished elasticity.

Lifestyle Changes

Weight and even smoking can negatively impact your back. “Managing your weight can do wonders for the health of your back,” adds Dr. Kaplan. “So does quitting smoking because nicotine restricts blood flow to the discs that cushion your vertebrae.”

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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