Daily Care for a Healthy Back

By: Dr. Donna A. Pontoriero, Chiropractor

Back problems don't develop overnight. Although you may suddenly begin to feel the effects of a back injury or instability, it may have been building up for years. Back injury can be caused by a car accident, fall, etc. or it can also develop from poor habits done repetitively over time. Some good habits to prevent injury are;

  1. Bend your knees to lift heavy objects. The strongest muscle groups in your body are in your legs, use them, not you back muscles which are for keeping you standing up straight, not for lifting weight.
  2. Avoid bending from your waist only, especially coupled with rotation. Bending over and twisting makes your discs most vulnerable to injury (i.e. golf is the worst sport for your back).
  3. Make sure you have firm support for your back, with your knees higher than your hips while sitting. This insures more stability to your lumbar spine (low back). If needed put a phone book or a stool under your feet to make your knees higher.
  4. Woman, keep your purses off your shoulders, carry then under your arm like a clutch. Men, keep your wallets out of your back pocket. Carry them or put them in your front pocket.
  5. If you have to do prolonged standing, raise one leg higher than the other and alternate legs. Again a phone book or stool may be used.
  6. Ladies should wear shoes with low to moderate heel, higher heel cause more stress to the low back.
  7. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. It changes the natural curves your spine should have, (Best: sleep on your side with one pillow under your head, and one between your knees with your knees slightly bent, or on your back with a pillow under your knees with your knees slightly bent)
  8. Avoid sudden twisting movements, especially in awkward positions (i.e. reaching for something in the cabinet, back seat, etc.). It's worth the extra couples of seconds to do it correctly.
  9. Be sure to stretch before and after exercising. You want to bring blood to the muscles to warm them up and to take away lactic acid ( a metabolic waste product from muscle use).
  10. Avoid bouncing when stretching, do a slow continuous stretch. Bouncing can injure your ligaments.

Make sure you're doing your best to take care of your spine. It houses the most important system in your body----the nervous system.