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Mind Your Back

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Sandhya Krishnamurthy 93% (11119 ratings)
BAMS
Ayurveda, Bangalore  •  32 years experience
Mind Your Back

The human body, a product of millions of years of evolution was built for movement, for activity, speed and precision. However, over the last few centuries, civilization has made our requirements to move much less than it was necessary for our ancestors. Our body is the same as it was millions of years ago, but the modifications in our lifestyle devoid of any physical activity has taken their toll. This is leading to increased incidents of back pain because of abnormal stresses on our spine. Back pain is an affliction which affects about 80% of population at one point or another in their lifetime and sadly the indications are that the incidents keep rising.With advanced technology, fewer physical complaints were to be expected, but this is not so. In fact, even today primitive races like aborigines in Australia suffer far less from back pain then, the so - called civilized races. Therefore, greater mobility and physical fitness is the hall mark in preventing back problems. There are over 100 expected causes of low back pain and many more incidents where the cause cannot be found out. But the most common cause of back pain is the wear and tear of the structures constituting the spine and this is mostly due to abnormal use of back and poor posture.The information given below helps to prevent and reduce the incidents of back pain.

Good posture - The most important way to prevent back aches, good posture, can be defined as any position which allows good use of the body for a specific task and is comfortable for as long as the position is held. Even though bad posture may not cause any discomfort, continuous poor posture will result in long term cause .

Back Posture in standing - Stay slim so that abnormal forces are not put on the spine. If you stand or walk a lot, low heeled shoes are necessary to maintain the proper curve at the small of your back.

Sitting - Choose a chair of the correct height. Feet should be supported on the floor comfortably and should not be dangling. Sit in a chair with proper support for the normal curves of your back. Choose a chair with arm rests. The arm rests should not be too high or low. Reading stance or computer monitor should be at such a height that you do not have to bend to the front or sidevise to do your work.

Lying -  The bed should be firm with good mattress and not swinging or slouching because that will spoil the normal curve of the back. Use a single good pillow. It does not matter whether you lie on your back while sleeping or on your side. Sometimes it is comfortable for the back to put a pillow below the knees while lying down.

Driving - Driving seat should support the back properly. If there is a gap in between two back and the seat, it should be filled with small cushion or one can use a back rest. Seated properly, your knee should be higher than your hips. If your job demands long hours of driving on a regular basis, then it is a good idea to break the journey after half an hour to one hour drive, take a little exercise to relieve the stress and restart driving. When getting out of the car, swivel your whole body towards the door rather than suddenly jerking it. Slide your feet on to the ground and then get out.

Lifting - One should follow the principles underlined below: As you approach, relax your knees. Lowering movement should start at the knees and not at the head. After bending your knee get close to the object to be lifted ; almost sit down on the floor keeping the feet apart. One foot should be a little ahead of the other .Lift the object gradually, smoothly and without jerking, keeping the object close to the body and keeping the back straight although not necessarily vertical. Gradually get up without twisting the back, if the load is too heavy get help Pulling or pushing -When pulling or pushing any object - keep the back straight, bend at the hips and knees using your legs rather than your arms or back. Pushing is easier on your back than pulling, so push it if you have a choice.

Fitness -If you are not fit then you are much more likely to damage your back as it will not be as flexible as it should be.

Mobility - Good posture is not possible without a mobile spine and muscle tone. Joints must be moved to keep them. Mobile and the muscles, both the abdominal and back must be used to keep them strong. Back exercises if done once a day, will maintain essential flexibility of the spine and the necessary muscle strength to help to prevent injury.

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