Tips to Prevent Back Injury

Tips to Prevent Back Injury-Back Injury Prevention

Back injuries can be very painful. They can also be difficult to heal. After having one back injury, you are more likely to injure your back again. It is important to learn how to avoid injuring or re-injuring your back. The following tips can help you to prevent a back injury.

What should I know about physical fitness?

  • Exercise for 30 minutes per day on most days of the week or as told by your doctor. Make sure to:
    • Do aerobic exercises, such as walking, jogging, biking, or swimming.
    • Do exercises that increase balance and strength, such as tai chi and yoga.
    • Do stretching exercises. This helps with flexibility.
    • Try to develop strong belly (abdominal) muscles. Your belly muscles help to support your back.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. This helps to decrease your risk of a back injury.

What should I know about my diet?

  • Talk with your doctor about your overall diet. Take supplements and vitamins only as told by your doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor about how much calcium and vitamin D you need each day. These nutrients help to prevent weakening of the bones (osteoporosis).
  • Include good sources of calcium in your diet, such as:
    • Dairy products.
    • Green leafy vegetables.
    • Products that have had calcium added to them (fortified).
  • Include good sources of vitamin D in your diet, such as:
    • Milk.
    • Foods that have had vitamin D added to them.

What should I know about my posture?

  • Sit up straight and stand up straight. Avoid leaning forward when you sit or hunching over when you stand.
  • Choose chairs that have good low-back (lumbar) support.
  • If you work at a desk, sit close to it so you do not need to lean over. Keep your chin tucked in. Keep your neck drawn back. Keep your elbows bent so your arms look like the letter “L” (right angle).
  • Sit high and close to the steering wheel when you drive. Add a low-back support to your car seat, if needed.
  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for very long. Take breaks to get up, stretch, and walk around at least one time every hour. Take breaks every hour if you are driving for long periods of time.
  • Sleep on your side with your knees slightly bent, or sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. Do notlie on the front of your body to sleep.

What should I know about lifting, twisting, and reaching?

Lifting and Heavy Lifting

  • Avoid heavy lifting, especially lifting over and over again. If you must do heavy lifting:
    • Stretch before lifting.
    • Work slowly.
    • Rest between lifts.
    • Use a tool such as a cart or a dolly to move objects if one is available.
    • Make several small trips instead of carrying one heavy load.
    • Ask for help when you need it, especially when moving big objects.
  • Follow these steps when lifting:
    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Get as close to the object as you can. Do notpick up a heavy object that is far from your body.
    • Use handles or lifting straps if they are available.
    • Bend at your knees. Squat down, but keep your heels off the floor.
    • Keep your shoulders back. Keep your chin tucked in. Keep your back straight.
    • Lift the object slowly while you tighten the muscles in your legs, belly, and butt. Keep the object as close to the center of your body as possible.
  • Follow these steps when putting down a heavy load:
    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Lower the object slowly while you tighten the muscles in your legs, belly, and butt. Keep the object as close to the center of your body as possible.
    • Keep your shoulders back. Keep your chin tucked in. Keep your back straight.
    • Bend at your knees. Squat down, but keep your heels off the floor.
    • Use handles or lifting straps if they are available.

Twisting and Reaching

  • Avoid lifting heavy objects above your waist.
  • Do nottwist at your waist while you are lifting or carrying a load. If you need to turn, move your feet.
  • Do notbend over without bending at your knees.
  • Avoid reaching over your head, across a table, or for an object on a high surface.

What are some other tips?

  • Avoid wet floors and icy ground. Keep sidewalks clear of ice to prevent falls.
  • Do notsleep on a mattress that is too soft or too hard.
  • Keep items that you use often within easy reach.
  • Put heavier objects on shelves at waist level, and put lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.
  • Find ways to lower your stress, such as:
    • Exercise.
    • Massage.
    • Relaxation techniques.
  • Talk with your doctor if you feel anxious or depressed. These conditions can make back pain worse.
  • Wear flat heel shoes with cushioned soles.
  • Avoid making quick (sudden) movements.
  • Use both shoulder straps when carrying a backpack.
  • Do notuse any tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or electronic cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor.
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