A sore back is no fun. Take a few precautions at work, home and play to keep your back healthy and happy.
On your feet
- Use proper posture – balance your weight evenly on your feet, stand tall with head up and shoulders back.
- Wear supportive shoes:
- Low heel (one inch or less), but avoid “flats” with no heel at all
- Insoles that cushion and support your feet
- Fit that’s comfortably secure, but not tight
Your chair back should follow the curves of your spine. Adjust the height of your chair so your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or cellphone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
Take a minute every hour or so to stretch. Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart; hands hanging loosely at your side. Bend from the waist and let your arms hang for about a minute. Reach your arms overhead as if you are trying to touch the ceiling. Then, stretch one arm higher than the other, stretching one side; switch sides.
Lift with your knees
You’ve probably heard the advice to “lift with your knees,” but do you know what that means?
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly ahead of the other.
- Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only. Don’t bend at the waist. You could put one knee on the floor and your other knee in front of you, bent at a right angle (half kneeling).
- With your back straight and your shoulders back, slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees. Don’t twist as you lift. Keep the box close to your body and at waist level.
- Take small steps with your heavy load.
- Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.
- Avoid lifting above your head or twisting while lifting or holding a heavy object.
If possible, divide heavy loads into sections to reduce the weight you are lifting. Ask someone to help you lift a heavy load or use a material handling device, such as a dolly or cart.
Pushing is generally preferable to pulling. Pushing allows you to use large muscle groups and apply more force to the load. Pulling carries a greater risk of strain and injury.
Be proactive! Develop a plan and execute!