Backache; Low back pain; Lumbar pain; Pain - back
Exercise is important for preventing future back pain. Through exercise you can:
- Improve your posture
- Strengthen your back and improve flexibility
- Lose weight
- Avoid falls
A complete exercise program should include aerobic activity (like walking, swimming, or riding a stationary bicycle) as well as stretching and strength training.
To prevent back pain, it is also very important to learn to lift and bend properly. Follow these tips:
- If an object is too heavy or awkward, get help.
- Spread your feet apart to give a wide base of support.
- Stand as close to the object you are lifting as possible.
- Bend at your knees, not at your waist.
- Tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the object up or lower it down.
- Hold the object as close to your body as you can.
- Lift using your leg muscles.
- As you stand up with the object, DO NOT bend forward.
- DO NOT twist while you are bending for the object, lifting it up, or carrying it.
Other measures to take to prevent back pain include:
- Avoid standing for long periods of time. If you must for your work, try using a stool. Alternate resting each foot on it.
- DO NOT wear high heels. Use cushioned soles when walking.
- When sitting for work, especially if using a computer, make sure that your chair has a straight back with adjustable seat and back, armrests, and a swivel seat.
- Use a stool under your feet while sitting so that your knees are higher than your hips.
- Place a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back while sitting or driving for long periods of time.
- If you drive long distance, stop and walk around every hour. Bring your seat as far forward as possible to avoid bending. Don't lift heavy objects just after a ride.
- Quit smoking.
- Lose weight.
- Learn to relax. Try methods like yoga, tai chi, or massage.
Rakel D. Low Back Pain. In:Integrative Medicine. Elsevier; 2003:423-431.
Sierpina VS, Curtis P, Doering J. An Integrative Approach To Low Back Pain. Clin Fam Pract. 2002; 4(4); 817.
US Preventative Services Task Force. Primary Care Interventions to Prevent Low Back Pain: Brief Evidence Update. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; February 2004.
Review Date: 07/07/2005
Reviewed By: Kevin B. Freedman, MD, MSCE, Sports Medicine, Orthopaedic Speclalists, Bryn Mawr, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.