Back Injury Prevention

The following tips can help you to prevent a back injury.

PHYSICAL FITNESS

  • Exercise often. Try to develop strong stomach (abdominal) muscles.

  • Do aerobic exercises often. This includes walking, jogging, biking, swimming.

  • Do exercises that help with balance and strength often. This includes tai chi and yoga.

  • Stretch before and after you exercise.

  • Keep a healthy weight.

DIET

  • Ask your doctor how much calcium and vitamin D you need every day.

  • Include calcium in your diet. Foods high in calcium include dairy products; green, leafy vegetables; and products with calcium added (fortified).

  • Include vitamin D in your diet. Foods high in vitamin D include milk and products with vitamin D added.

  • Think about taking a multivitamin or other nutritional products called " supplements."

  • Stop smoking if you smoke.

POSTURE

  • ExitCare ImageSit and stand up straight. Avoid leaning forward or hunching over.

  • Choose chairs that support your lower back.

  • If you work at a desk:

  • Sit close to your work so you do not lean over.

  • Keep your chin tucked in.

  • Keep your neck drawn back.

  • Keep your elbows bent at a right angle. Your arms should look like the letter "L."

  • Sit high and close to the steering wheel when you drive. Add low back support to your car seat if needed.

  • Avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long. Get up and move around every hour. Take breaks if you are driving for a long time.

  • Sleep on your side with your knees slightly bent. You can also sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. Do not sleep on your stomach.

LIFTING, TWISTING, AND REACHING

  • ExitCare ImageAvoid heavy lifting, especially lifting over and over again. If you must do heavy lifting:

  • Stretch before lifting.

  • Work slowly.

  • Rest between lifts.

  • Use carts and dollies to move objects when possible.

  • Make several small trips instead of carrying 1 heavy load.

  • Ask for help when you need it.

  • Ask for help when moving big, awkward objects.

  • Follow these steps when lifting:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Get as close to the object as you can. Do not pick up heavy objects that are far from your body.

  • Use handles or lifting straps when possible.

  • Bend at your knees. Squat down, but keep your heels off the floor.

  • Keep your shoulders back, your chin tucked in, and your back straight.

  • Lift the object slowly. Tighten the muscles in your legs, stomach, and butt. Keep the object as close to the center of your body as possible.

  • Reverse these directions when you put a load down.

  • Do not:

  • Lift the object above your waist.

  • Twist at the waist while lifting or carrying a load. Move your feet if you need to turn, not your waist.

  • Bend over without bending at your knees.

  • Avoid reaching over your head, across a table, or for an object on a high surface.

OTHER TIPS

  • Avoid wet floors and keep sidewalks clear of ice.

  • Do not sleep on a mattress that is too soft or too hard.

  • Keep items that you use often within easy reach.

  • Put heavier objects on shelves at waist level. Put lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.

  • Find ways to lessen your stress. You can try exercise, massage, or relaxation.

  • Get help for depression or anxiety if needed.

GET HELP IF:

  • You injure your back.

  • You have questions about diet, exercise, or other ways to prevent back injuries.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.