We see many patients with back pain and damage. While everyone knows the dangers of trying to move your brother-in-law’s refrigerator, we’re not as familiar with other ways we stress our spine and the surrounding muscles.
Prevention is always the best medicine, and this can be incredibly true with the back, as minor injuries can lead to long-term chronic pain. But it doesn’t usually have to be that way.
Here are some tips for protecting your back.
Lifting, but not twisting
Everyone has heard this — never bend over at the waist to lift things, particularly heavy things. Use your knees and legs.
There’s an even riskier move that you probably haven’t heard about — lifting and twisting at the same time. You can cause a serious back injury by twisting while lifting, even if your knees are bent and you’re using your legs. If you must lift that box from the floor and then turn to put it on a shelf, do it this way — squat and lift the box, but then instead of twisting your body around with the box, use your feet to turn your entire body.
Push, don’t pull
Another one you probably haven’t heard is that pushing is better than pulling. If you have something heavy to move, first try and avoid lifting it. If you can, get close to the item, such as a bookcase, tighten your stomach muscles, and push it forward. When you push you utilize your stomach muscles, while you use your back when you pull.
Sitting versus standing
This is individual to you. For some people, standing hurts their back. For others, it’s sitting.
If you have disk cartilage problems, sitting is the enemy. This is because when you sit there is increased pressure in the abdomen. Standing feels better.
Avoiding sitting is often easier said than done. But at least use a good lumbar cushion in your chair. Also, try and make sure your knees are at least as high as your hips when your feet are flat on the floor.
If your issue is standing, it’s likely you are developing arthritis in the tiny facet joints on the back of the spine. To avoid the pain, those with this issue either hunch over when they walk or lean on something such as a shopping cart at the supermarket. Sitting feels better.
To alleviate the issues with standing, try and wear comfortable shoes and stand on a soft surface. If you have a standing desk, make sure it is positioned high enough that you’re not bending over at all. Rest one leg on a stool or something else to reduce the stress on your spine. Change positions often.
Taking care of your back is one of the best preventative medicine procedures you can make. Of course, if you’re having back pain, it may be time to come see us to be sure you’re not compressing your nerve roots coming out of your spine. Call the team at Texas Neurosurgery, (214) 823-2052, to make an appointment.