January 12, 2009
The Los Angeles Times
To maintain a healthy back
Four out of five people will experience back pain at some point in their lives, but there are things you can do to avoid or minimize back troubles. Here are some tips:
Maintaining a healthy weight reduces strain on the spine. Walking, swimming and Pilates are low-impact exercises engaging core muscles that support the back. Stretch or try yoga to maintain flexibility.
STAND UP STRAIGHT
Good posture keeps the spine properly aligned. If you stand up for long periods of time, alternate putting one or the other foot forward or up on a step, and keep the knees slightly bent to reduce weight on the lower back.
That means straight — with both feet flat on the floor, or on a footrest if necessary to keep your knees in line with your hips. A small pillow or folded towel at the small of your back can help support the spine. The computer screen should be at eye level so you don’t have to hunch to see it.
Hold heavy objects close to your body. Lift by squatting or kneeling, using the legs, not the back, to rise up. Don’t lift and twist at the same time. When moving heavy items across the floor, push; don’t pull. And if necessary, ask for help with large burdens.
SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE
Put a pillow between your legs and under your head to straighten the spine.
TAKE A BREAK
Get up and walk around every hour or so. When driving a long distance, pull over to walk around the vehicle and stretch.
TAKE YOUR VITAMINS
Vitamin C is important for connective tissue health. Avoid future osteoporosis by getting calcium for bones, and the vitamin D that helps bones absorb it.
Nicotine prevents discs from absorbing nutrients.
DITCH THE STILETTOS
Shoes that don’t properly cushion the foot, such as high heels or flip-flops, can alter posture and stress the spine. Stick to flats or shoes with heels of one inch or less. More…