Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee
President, Heart Care Foundation of India
1. Stay fit
Stretching and strengthening both your back and abdominal muscles is important. A stretching and strengthening regimen should target the back, abdominal, and buttock muscles.
Bicycling (either stationary or regular), swimming, and walking lead the list of low–risk, high–benefit activities for most people’s backs. All are low– or minimal–impact exercises that strengthen muscles which support the back. None involve awkward or stressful actions that are detrimental to back muscles.
Sports and activities such as football, tennis, gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting, rowing (crew), running, aerobic dance, and ballet involve a relatively high risk for back injury because of the extension, lifting, or impacts involved. Other unnatural motions that could induce pain include back arching (during gymnastics and diving), twisting (while hitting a golf ball, swinging at a baseball, or bowling), vertical jolting (while riding a horse), and stretching your legs strenuously (when hiking or when balancing a sailboat during a race).
2. Maintain a healthy weight
The heavier you are, the greater the load your spine must carry. To make matters worse, if the bulk of your weight comes in the form of abdominal fat, rather than muscle, your center of gravity can shift forward — a condition that puts added pressure on your back.
3. Kick the habit
Nicotine in cigarettes contributes to low back pain in two ways. First, nicotine hampers the flow of blood to the vertebrae and disks. This impairs their function and may trigger a bout of back pain. Second, smokers tend to lose bone faster than nonsmokers, putting them at greater risk for osteoporosis, another common cause of back pain.
4. Lighten your load
A survey by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons found that nearly 60% of the doctors responding had treated school–age patients complaining of back and shoulder pain caused by heavy backpacks.
1. Use both of the pack’s straps instead of slinging one strap over a shoulder.
2. Carry only the essentials
3. Lighten your load whenever possible.
4. Opt for backpacks that have different–sized compartments to help distribute weight evenly.
5. Look for wide, padded straps and a padded back.
6. When carrying a heavy load, put the heaviest items as close as possible to the center of the back
7. Use the hip strap for support.
8. For very heavy loads, use a backpack with wheels.
9. Bend from your knees when picking up your pack.
5. Develop back–healthy habits
1. While standing to perform ordinary tasks like ironing or folding laundry, keep one foot on a small step stool.
2. Don’t remain sitting or standing in the same position for too long. Stretch, shift your position, or take a short walk when you can.
3. When bending from the waist, always use your hands to support yourself.
4. When sitting, keep your knees a bit higher than your hips and bend them at a 90–degree angle. Sit with your feet comfortably on the floor. If your feet don’t reach the floor, put a book or a small stool under them.
5. Because vacuuming can take a toll on your back, tackle rooms in chunks, spending no more than five to 10 minutes at a time doing this task.