Warm weather’s here again, and for most people, that means that it’s time to head outdoors with family and friends. Keep in mind how much activity you did over the winter, though, before hitting the hiking trail, the tennis court or the backyard garden. Hurting your back will certainly ruin your fun in the sun.
Engaging in sudden, strenuous activity is a good way to aggravate a previous back injury. Even the simple act of bending to tie your shoe or cutting roses can have excruciating consequences. While these injuries are more common in older adults, back pain doesn’t discriminate based on age.
How to Protect Your Back This Summer
Be mindful of how you move. Poor posture and bad body mechanics often lead to back pain. Sudden jerks or jarring movements may cause muscle strain, compression injuries or even more serious injuries like disk herniation.
If you’re wondering how to protect your back this summer, follow a few simple tips. These tips can help you keep pain away during the summer months and throughout the year. Stopping to smell the roses makes life worthwhile. Doing so with proper body mechanics keeps back pain from cramping your style.
How to Protect Your Back While Bending or Turning
- Stand with your feet flat on the ground, about a shoulder’s width apart.
- Hold your upper arms firmly against your sides unless you feel unsteady.
- Keep your back as straight as possible.
- Pinch your shoulder blades together to provide extra support for your spine.
- Bend from your hips and knees, never from the waist. When you bend from your waist, your back tends to round, which can damage your spine.
- Move your feet and body together when you change the direction you’re facing. Twisting your spine too much leads to injury. Instead, keep your toes, knees and nose facing the same direction.
How to Protect Your Back While Lifting and Carrying
- Don’t lift or carry heavy objects on a regular basis. If you’re unsure about your specific lifting limits, schedule a consultation with a spine specialist.
- When you need to lift an object from the ground, take a knee as the recommended starting position.
- Never bend so far over that you’re parallel to the ground. This position places tremendous pressure on your spine.
How to Protect Your Back When Sitting
- Keep your knees and hips at about the same level.
- Set your feet flat on the floor, about shoulder’s width apart.
- Be mindful of your posture. Slumping causes injury, compression and degradation to your spine.
How to Protect Your Back When Standing
- Maintain proper posture whenever you have to stand for long periods. Hold your head high to maintain a straight spine. Pinch your shoulder blades together to support your spine.
- Use your core muscles to support your lower back, which can be as simple as holding your abdomen firm by gently pulling your stomach in.
- Shift your weight from foot to foot. It’s less wearing on your body if you have to stand in place for extended periods of time.
- When you rise from a chair to a standing position, slide your bottom to the front edge of your seat before attempting to stand.