Winter is here : Protect your Back Simple tips for preventing back pain

When winter comes

millions of Americans take to shoveling snow, chopping wood and Winter sports. Not a small percentage of us will end up with aching backs. We may be miserable for varying periods of time, even incapacitated for weeks or months. More often than not, back pain sufferers are ordinarily sedentary individuals with sagging abdomens, poor posture and 20 or more extra pounds.  All it takes is a temporary lapse of good sense, and some bad luck to cause a back injury.  With our bodies unprepared for the stress, we may overdo activities, causing strained muscles and spraining the ligaments that support the spine.  It is even possible to injure a disc between two vertebrae.   Person shovelling snow   According to the National Institute of Health some 20 million visits by Americans to the doctor each year are prompted by back problems. Experts at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calculate the price tag for treating back problems in 2010 was between $30.5 and $50 billion. Most people with back injuries recover with conservative treatment, but there is a chance that once a person has suffered from a backache, they may have repeated attacks.  The American Chiropractic Association reports 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time and that One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. An estimated 90 percent of backaches can be prevented by learning and applying a few simple tips:

Bending and Lifting

Learn to bend at your knees and hips, keeping your back straight when you lift something. Heavy objects should be lifted close to your body to avoid greatly increasing the pressure on spinal discs. Use your arm and leg muscles to lift, not your back. Similarly, avoid using your back to push or pull; instead use your entire body with the knees and hips bent slightly.

Sitting

Avoid very soft chairs. The best chair is firm and shaped to the natural contour of your back. This will support the small of the back, and allows you to sit with your feet flat on the floor. Your head should be held directly over your body.

Sleeping

Avoid soft, sagging or lumpy mattresses. A firm mattress is considered the healthiest for the back.   Sleep on your back or your side with your knees and hips bent slightly, but do not sleep on your stomach.  

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