How you use (or abuse) your back in the home, in the garden, at work or for children walking to and from school can determine whether you will have to learn to live with back pain. Adopting simple everyday measures such as keeping active and paying attention to the way you stand, sit and lift can help you prevent back pain.
The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) offers the following back-saving tips.
Lifting and moving
Lifting and moving objects are common causes of pain and injury to your body. The lower back is most often put at risk, but the neck and shoulders can also be injured. You can protect yourself against injury, both at home and work, by trying to eliminate the need for lifting and bending in the first place.
Plan the task: is there a better way?
- Does the lift need to occur?
- Modify the lift by using equipment whenever possible.
- Ask another person to help.
Think before you lift
To avoid injuring your back, try to reduce:
- The need to lift below knee height or above shoulder height.
- The distance the load is away from your body.
- The weight, shape and size of the load.
- The number of times you're going to lift.
- The distance you're going to carry.
- The speed of your lift.
- Prepare your body by warming up and then doing some stretches before you lift and carry.
- Keep your feet wide apart
- Lower and lift using hips and knees, not back.
- Maintain the natural curve of back.
- Twist your body while lifting.
- Lift with a bent back.
- Lift with a jerking or awkward action.
Make your work easier
- Keep objects that you move regularly between shoulder and mid-thigh height, so you don't have to bend down or lift above your shoulders.
- Always check the weight and stability of the load before you lift.
- Get help if necessary.
- Don't lift and carry heavy items use a trolley, hoist, crane or forklift.
- Make sure the pathway is clear.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat, non-slip shoes.