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My Aching Back!

Eight tips to being pain-free.

 

  • For more on how to avoid and reduce back pain, watch the Stay Fit video. In three video segments, you’ll learn healthy postures and six exercises and stretches that can help make back pain a thing of the past.

 

Back pain is no fun.

More than 80 percent of adults have had back issues. Often due to tight muscles, arthritis, or disc issues, back discomfort can be relieved with the right exercises and stretches. Maintaining good posture throughout the day is also important.

To protect your back, take heed of these 8 tips:

1). Avoid rounding your back or hunching your shoulders when you sit. Instead, lift your rib cage and gently tuck in your stomach to sit upright. If you sit at work for long periods of time, place a small soft pillow behind your low back. Take breaks to walk and stretch.

2). Keep your computer keyboard at waist height on your desk and your screen at eye level looking straight forward. A work station that is too high or too low can put stress on your upper and lower back. Purchase a desk chair that has adjustable height to tailor it to your needs.

3). Avoid twisting and bending at the same time. This is one of the most stressful movements for your back, and it tends to happen while performing regular chores like vacuuming and loading the dishwasher. Turn your feet to face the new direction instead.

4). Sleep on your side or back, not on your stomach. While sleeping on your stomach, your back is in an arched position for hours on end. Change this habit and you will reduce your back pain.

5). Men, take your bulky wallet out of your back pocket. Sitting on a wallet creates a lopsided surface and that can aggravate back and hip pain.

6). Women, avoid a heavy shoulder bag. It pulls one shoulder lower than the other, putting the back out of alignment. Lighten your shoulder bag by taking out extra lipsticks, change and pens.

7). Control your weight. A pot belly, and even extra pounds of more evenly distributed body weight, stresses the spine.

8). When lifting an object let your leg muscles do more of the work. They are likely stronger than your back or your stomach. To do this, squat down to pick something up whether it’s light or heavy. Try to keep your back upright as you rise up from the squat tightening your stomach muscles as you lift. Keeping your head up helps you maintain this posture. Also be sure to test your load — don’t just automatically pick something up. If it’s too heavy, split it into smaller loads or ask for help whenever possible.

Want some more fitness tips? Read previous columns by Susie along with videos.

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