Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Back Sprain Chronic Prevention

Prevention of chronic back strain or sprain includes:

Back Sprain Chronic Lifting

Tips for proper lifting in someone with a chronic back strain or sprain:

  • Look at the label and find out how much the object weighs.
  • Plan the lift in advance.
  • A back support may help you maintain the correct position, but it does not decrease the risk of back injury.
  • Avoid twisting as you lift: always start from a position that allows your back to move up and down, only.
  • Stand close to the object you wish to lift. Place one foot alongside the object and the other behind it. Keep your body weight over your feet.
  • Lift with your legs and keep your back straight. Bend your knees and keep your elbows close to your body.
  • Lift the load smoothly and keep the object close to your body: do not jerk or tug the object.
  • Maintain solid footing and keep your feet a shoulder's width apart as you walk when you carry an object.
  • Keep your back straight. Change direction by moving your feet.
  • Observe the same technique when putting items down.

Back Sprain Chronic Posture

Here are some tips for maintaining proper posture with chronic back strain or sprain.

A chair with low (lumbar) back support helps protect your back while sitting. Try to keep your back straight (at 90 degrees with the chair's surface) rather than slouching. Do not sit at the edge of your chair while working. Sit close to your work so that you do not have to lean over your desk. Sit in a chair that is low enough to place both feet on the floor and no lower.

If you work standing, stand with one foot elevated to a comfortable level and switch feet every half hour or so. Do not stand bent forward at the waist with your work in a low position. Move your work surface up to a comfortable work level so you do not have to slouch.

Do not stand for long periods of time wearing high-heeled, hard-heeled, or platform shoes. Do not stand with your knees locked or your stomach relaxed. The belly (abdominal) muscles act as important support for the lower back and spine. The goal is to have good balance.

Reaching and twisting
Arrange your work area to reduce reaching and twisting of the body. Instead of twisting, turn your entire body, keeping your hips and feet pointed in the same direction. When reaching to the ground to pick up even an object (pen or pencil), kneel down on one knee and support your upper body with one arm.

When leaning forward, move your whole body and not just your arms. Bend at your knees and hips; do not bend your back. Position yourself so that you have the best leverage when lifting.

Remember: a 50 pound object lifted with the knees locked and the back bent forward will put 650 pounds of force on your lower back! Use your arms and the powerful muscles in your legs to lift. This takes the strain off of your back.

Continue to Back Sprain Chronic Outlook

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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