Physical Approaches to Back Pain Relief

Most chronic back pain is the result of activities that have an adverse effect, such as lifting heavy objects improperly or simply sitting in a chair for long periods with bad posture. Changing our habits, therefore, can have a significant impact. Below are some of the most commonly advised physical measures to take. As always, see a physician or other qualified professional for assistance in deciding what is best for you.

1.Weight loss: approximately 67 percent of Americans are overweight. These extra pounds put pressure on the back and strain both back and abdominal muscles, which can weaken these muscles and compound the problem.

2.Improve Posture: Bad posture means your body is out of balance. When it comes to your back this means that only a small number of muscles and joints are doing most of the work. Proper posture will spread out the task and relieve the intense pressure on small areas of the back.

3.Exercise: A good exercise program, designed by a professional, will strengthen muscles in your back, keep them limber, and increase endurance. Though our instincts may tell us to rest until the pain passes, the proper exercise can be an effective means of pain relief or reduction.

4.Movement: Simple measures, like using your leg strength, instead of back muscles, to lift heavy objects can make a big difference. Whether at work, home, or engaged in leisure activities, be aware of how you can alter you movements to avoid unnecessary stress on your back.

Standing

When standing upright, your chest should be forward, your head up, shoulders straight, and your weight even distributed between your feet with your hips tucked in. If you have to remain standing for long periods, avoid remaining in the same position for the entire time. Be sure to move around and change positions regularly. Another good idea is to rest one foot on a stool, curb, etc. then switch to the other foot after a few minutes.

If your work requires you to perform tasks on a platform or desk make sure to adjust it to a height that is comfortable for you. Spending day after day hunched over while on your feet is almost a sure recipe for back problems.

Sitting

In todays work world many of us have jobs that involve spending most of our time in a seated position. The rule of thumb here is to sit for as little as possible, and even then for only short periods of time. Since this is not always possible, be sure to get up and walk around frequently. Even a short stroll across a room will help.

When in a seated position for long periods, sit with a support positioned in the curve of your back. Nothing fancy, even a firm pillow or a rolled up towel will do the trick. At the same time, keep your hips and knees at right angles. If your chair is too high for this, either replace the chair or get a stool to rest your feet on. Otherwise keep both feet on the floor and do not cross your legs.

The chair you use should be firm and have a high back and arm rests. The problems with soft chairs or couches in that the curve in your back is not supported and it can come to be in a rounded position, which causes the kind of muscle and joint stress that leads to problems.

When seated in a chair in front of a desk, make sure the different pieces of furniture complement each other so that you can sit up straight as you work, with your elbows and arms on your chair or desk and your shoulders relaxed. Hunching or leaning over should be avoided.

Finally, when getting out of a chair after sitting for a period of time, be sure to stand up by straightening your legs, not bending at the waist. Once in a standing position stretch your back by doing a series of simple back bends.

Much of the same applies when driving in a seated position. Support the curve of your back and be sure your seat is positioned close enough to the wheel so that your knees can bend and your feet reach the pedals without having to stretch for them.

Lifting

The simplest thing to do is avoid lifting heavy objects, or those whose size or shape make them awkward to move. Since lifting cannot always be avoided, be sure not to lift with your back. When grasping a object to be lifted have it close to your body with your feet spread shoulder width apart and planted firmly on the ground. Use your leg muscles to do the actual lifting, with the simplest means of doing this being to start with your legs bent so that you merely need to straighten your knees.

Once you have lifted the object, keep it in front of you and move with small, slow steps. Instead of twisting, change direction with your entire body coordinated together for the move. When the object is set down, once again keep it close to your body and let your legs do the work. Remember, the muscles in your legs are a lot bigger and stronger than those in the lower back.

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