From poor posture to an acute sports injury, back conditions can threaten to interrupt both daily activities and long-term plans. Therefore, it’s important to protect your back whether at work, home or on the road. Several government organizations and research groups have focused their efforts on issues like sitting ergonomics and back rehabilitation techniques, so take advantage of the latest health information.
Since lifting heavy objects is one of the most frequent sources of back pain and injury, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers plenty of information about proper lifting techniques. They first recommend preparing to lift by warming up your muscles. Next, stand close to the load, facing the way you intend to move. Use a wide stance for balance and get a good grip on the object, then start to lift while keeping your arms straight, chin tucked into your chest and abdominal muscles tight. Lift the load close to your body and avoid twisting or side bending while lifting. Get more lifting tips from the CCOHS at www.ccohs.ca .
The Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) provides a long list of tips to improve back comfort during everyday activities. If you sit in front of a computer at work, make sure the keyboard is above your lap and arms are relaxed with elbows bent at a 90 degree angle. Look into adjusting the monitor or getting an eye exam if you find yourself leaning forward to see the screen, and try not to cradle the telephone between your ear and shoulder.
Need to shovel during winter months? The CCA recommends using a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel and removing small amounts of snow at a time. Students should watch out for backpacks that are overloaded, made of heavy materials or have straps less than five centimetres wide. A hip strap or waist belt can redistribute as much as 50 to 70 percent of the weight off shoulders, and rolling backpacks are an even better option for those with a lot of books to carry. Tips for golfing, gardening, sleeping, traveling and more are available at www.chiropracticcanada.ca.
According to CTV News, a recent study published by Annals of Internal Medicine found that low back pain patients who received a one-hour massage once a week for 10 weeks showed more improvement than those who did not. The research analyzed about 400 patients ages 20 to 65, and makes a strong case for the practice of massage therapy. Dr. Andrea Furian of Toronto’s Institute for Work & Health attests that the study’s findings could have a major beneficial impact on chronic back pain sufferers . Many studies have also shown that regular massages help prevent injuries by loosening tight, stressed muscles. There are different types of massage, such as Swedish, deep-tissue, sports and trigger point. Book an appointment and talk to your healthcare provider about whether massage therapy can help remedy a back injury – and potentially prevent further back problems.
Whether you’ve already had back issues or think you’re at risk due to work or hobbies, speak with your doctor about ways to prevent pain. There are many simple things you can adjust – like posture or lifting technique – to avoid damage to such an important part of your body. For more information, visit Health Canada at www.hc-sc.gc.ca.