Back basics

Tips to avoiding back injury and pain

Eighty percent of the adult population in the United States is affected at some point by back pain, according to Kentucky-based health-care provider Saint Joseph Health System, and it is the second most common reason why people see their doctors. Those who have pulled a muscle in their lower back from heavy lifting and/or lifting incorrectly know exactly how excruciating and debilitating the pain can be. Those prone to back pain can even see symptoms exacerbated from long hours sitting in an office chair. Additionally, the risk of back pain is increased in individuals who are overweight.

Here are some tips to help maintain a healthy, strong back and avoid injury:

• When standing, keep one foot forward of the other and knees bent slightly to keep pressure off the lower back.

• When sitting, sit with knees a little higher than the hips.

• If lifting a heavy object, kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor, as close to the object as possible; lift using legs, not the back, and keep the item close to the body.

• Put a pillow or two beneath your knees when sleeping on your back, which will lessen pressure on your lower back.

• Keep within 10 pounds of your ideal weight.

• If you’re a smoker—quit. Nicotine restricts the flow of blood to discs, which cushion the vertebrae.

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