9 Ways To Banish Your Back Pain

A man sitting in bed wincing and touching his backIs your back bothering you, and are you wondering how to get rid of your back pain? If the phrase “Ouch, my back!” is a regular part of your life, you’re not alone: 65 million Americans suffer from back pain. Slow, gentle activity can help you live with, if not banish, tired muscles and stiff joints. Certain movements or postures aren’t recommended for a weak back. Here are some suggestions for what’s best for you to banish the pain.

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 1. Stand Better

Standing for long periods can be stressful on your lower back. If you have to stand for work, try placing one foot on a stool or other low object. Then change feet every so often. This will help take the pressure off your lower back. Wearing cushioned shoes or standing on a thick rubber mat can also help relieve pressure when you have to stand for long hours.

2. Wear Comfortable Shoes

To help keep your back feeling healthy, choose comfortable, well-cushioned shoes. Although low-heeled shoes are best for everyday wear, heels aren’t necessarily a no-no. Choose a pair with a cushioned sole. Cushioned soles reduce the impact when you’re walking on hard surfaces. This helps protect your back, hips, and knees.

3. Start Exercise Gradually

Exercise is a great way to keep your back healthy. But if you’ve been inactive for a while, start slowly. Begin with a low-impact exercise such as walking, stationary biking, or swimming for about 30 minutes a day. Adding gentle stretching or yoga may also help your muscles. Ask your doctor what types of exercise are best for you.

4. Sit Comfortably

If your job requires you to sit for long periods, make sure your chair has a straight back, an adjustable seat, and armrests. Some people prefer more lumbar support than others. If you need extra support, place a rolled towel behind the lower part of your back. Resting your feet on a low stool can also help ease back pain when sitting.

If you spend most of your day at a computer, your work station can affect your back’s health. You shouldn’t have to lean forward to reach your keyboard or see your monitor. Instead, move them closer, so you can keep your elbows at your side as you work. You should also adjust your computer screen so it is just at or below eye level.

5. Lift Correctly

Lifting children and other heavy objects is a common source of back pain. Follow these tips to protect your back:

  • Get close to the object you’re lifting. Keep your elbows as close to your trunk as possible, trying not to reach your arms away from your body.
  • Bend your knees and lift with your legs and stomach muscles.
  • Don’t twist as you lift.

6. Adjust Your Driving Position

Driving long distances can put a strain on your low back. Follow these tips to help keep your back feeling good, even on the longest trips.

  • Move your seat forward so you don’t have to bend to reach the steering wheel.
  • Put a rolled towel, small pillow, or other lumbar support behind your lower back.
  • Take a break every hour on long trips to get out of the car and walk around.

7. Push With Care

Activities that require pushing, such as vacuuming, using a stroller, and mowing the lawn can strain your lower back. Again, keep your elbows as close to your trunk as possible. Don’t push with straight arms. Choosing a lightweight stroller or vacuum can also help. If the activity still feels like too much, try doing a little at a time.

8. Choose the Best Sleep Position

Sleeping on your side is the most common sleeping position. Placing a small pillow between your knees helps keep the back in a good position. If you must sleep on your back, try using a pillow under your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this can make back pain worse.

9. Keep Your Weight Down

Carrying extra weight on your body means more work for your lower back muscles. This is especially true if the extra pounds are around your waist. The heavier you are, the more impact there is on your back with each step. Losing weight can also help protect the muscles and joints in your knees and hips.

10 Backpack Tips That Can Prevent Injuries

A smiling schoolgirl wearing a backpack and holding a binderAs the school season starts, experts warn that overloaded backpacks often result in back injuries among both children and young adults.

More than 13,700 kids aged 5 to 18 were treated in hospitals and doctors’ offices for backpack-related injuries in a single year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) advises parents and caregivers to pay close attention to children’s posture and not wait for them to complain about back pain before lightening their load.

“When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the school day,” Dr. Melanie Kinchen, an orthopedic surgeon and AAOS spokeswoman, said in an academy news release. “Backpack injuries are commonly caused by wearing overloaded backpacks, as well as lifting and carrying them incorrectly. Parents and teachers should guide children and teens to take preventative measures. Start by choosing a backpack that is appropriately sized for your child or have them use a rolling backpack as an alternative to carrying their heavy load on their shoulders.”

The academy suggested several additional ways to help avoid pain and discomfort from wearing a backpack.

• Use both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight of the backpack.
• Tighten the straps and use a waist strap if available.
• Place the biggest items in the backpack closest to the back, but remove anything that is too heavy.
• Bend at the knees and use the legs when picking up a backpack.
• Only carry essential items in the backpack. Leave extra books at home or school whenever possible.
• Do not leave backpacks in aisles or walkways to avoid falls.
• Parents and caregivers should encourage their children to speak up about any pain or discomfort they feel while wearing their backpack, particularly numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.
• Wear backpacks that are appropriate for the wearer’s size.
• Parents and caregivers should be aware of any posture changes in their child or red marks on their shoulders from wearing their backpack.
• Parents should talk to schools about ways to lighten children’s load, such as allowing them to stop at their lockers during the day or taking the weight of students’ backpacks into account when preparing lessons.