Preventing back and neck pain
Once you encounter back or neck pain, you are four times
as likely to experience it again. This is why prevention is essential
to your long-term recovery.
One of the best ways to avoid back pain is by exercising
and stretching. Low-impact aerobics, such as walking or swimming, is
an ideal way to prevent or treat back pain. Stop if the exercise becomes
painful, and always remember to stretch. Stretching is easy to incorporate
into your daily routine. You can even do it in front of the television.
Below are some more specific ways to prevent back or
Sitting for long periods
The spine likes movement. Anything that puts the spine in a static
position creates stress, which can cause back and neck pain. Every
hour, stand, walk around, bend, arch backward gently and twist. Doing
so at regular intervals will lengthen the amount of time you can
sit comfortably. Also, get an ergonomically-designed chair or an
orthopedic insert to support your spine, especially if your job involves
long periods of sitting. Or roll up a towel, and place it behind
your low back.
A comfortable way to stand
Prolonged standing can also strain the back. If you have to stand for
long periods of time, prop one foot on a small stool or telephone book
to reduce stress in the low back. Alternate with the other foot. Every
half hour, bend over and touch your toes, with your knees slightly
bent or do some of the stretching
exercises shown in this Web site. They will help loosen
your muscles, ligaments and joints.
While traveling on a plane, it helps to raise your feet on a briefcase
or a bag underneath the seat in front of you. Ask for a pillow to
place behind your low back to improve lumbar support. It is important
to get up frequently and walk to the bathroom and back, whenever
possible. Avoid hour-long periods in your seat.
The best sleeping position
Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which arches your back and puts pressure
on your spine. Instead, lie on your back with a small pillow tucked
under your knees. This position unloads the spine. An alternate position
is to lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. If you like
sleeping on your stomach, place a soft, flat pillow under your stomach
to eliminate some of the arch that can stress your back.
It is important to sleep on a mattress with optimal back support, whether
it is a conventional mattress or a waterbed. Older waterbeds were
mushy and provided little support. However, now there are waterbeds
that allow you to adjust their firmness. A good mattress should relate
to your body shape. Generally, go with what feels comfortable to
When buying a new car
- Automatic transmission (reduces the use of foot pedals)
- Power steering (reduces the amount of effort to steer
and turn the car)
- Car seat design – look for good lumbar support
and a firm seat
Avoid transporting heavy or large objects from one place to another
after your surgery (eg. leaving ironing board in a suitable place rather
than taking it in and out of a cupboard, arrange someone to take out
the rubbish). Also try to avoid heavy physical tasks (e.g. washing
the car), particularly jobs that involve twisting and bending.
Relaxation is a useful tool for people with back pain (or anyone in
general) for several reasons:
- It can prevent or alleviate aches and pains caused
by excessive muscle tension.
- It can help minimize unnecessary fatigue and is useful
in aiding recovery after strenuous exercise.
- It can raise the threshold for tolerance to pain.
The main aim of relaxation is to achieve a complete state
of physical rest. Although this sounds easy, it is not something that
comes naturally to us and must be learned and practised. Talk to your
medical team for more information.
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