HomeBack & SpineBack to the Basics: A Guide to Preventing Back Pain

Back to the Basics: A Guide to Preventing Back Pain

Make your job easier on your back

Not surprisingly, manual labor jobs can easily lead to back pain because of the heavy lifting involved, but even desk jockeys are at risk. Most people don’t realize that the incidence of lower back pain is higher in people who have sedentary desk jobs, notes Peggy W. Brill, a physical therapist and certified orthopedic specialist in New York City. In fact, new research from the Paris Descartes University in France found that maintaining the same posture for hours at work often causes low back pain.

That’s why it’s important to make your workspace back-friendly. For starters, sit with your upper back against a firm, supportive chair; maintain a hollow in your low back (a rolled-up towel placed against your lower spine supports the natural lumbar curve); keep your thighs parallel to the floor; and adjust your computer screen to eye level so you don’t have to crane your neck. Keep your keyboard and monitor directly in front of you so that you’re not in a twisted position, adds Brill. Even if you’re working against a deadline, get up and move around every 30 minutes throughout the day, Gross recommends. Sitting in one position without a change causes fatigue of the postural muscles in the entire spine and may lead to pain and loss of normal postural muscle control,” which can make it even harder to maintain good posture while you’re sitting.

Ease stress regularly.

Stress has an enormous role in the management of neck and back pain, Desai says. With increased stress, (both types of pain) tend to get worse because there’s an increase in the clenching of muscles and an increased sense of more aggravating pain. That’s why it’s so important to find your own personal release valves and to use them often by regularly meditating, doing deep breathing, using self-hypnosis or spending time doing activities or hobbies you enjoy. This way, you can help prevent stress from taking a toll on your back, and you’ll be able to use the pleasure principle to remind yourself that there’s more to your life than back pain when it does flare up.

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Stacey Colino
Stacey Colino is an award-winning writer specializing in health, fitness, psychology and nutrition. Her work has appeared in dozens of national magazines, including Prevention, Health, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Parents, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping and Real Simple. In addition, she is the co-author of Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well with Dr. David Katz; Strong Is the New Skinny with Jennifer Cohen; Good Food – Fast! with Chef Jason Roberts; and Just Your Type: The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Training Right for Your Body Type with Phil Catudal.

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