Back Care Guide
- The most common problem after the common cold, cough and headache is backache.
- 80% of people suffer some or the other form of spinal problems which result in neck or back pain at some point during their lives.
- 90% people suffer from postural neck and back pain which occurs while bending down, lifting weight, or working in an inappropriate manner or posture.
- Every episode of pain may force the sufferer to rest for 12-15 days.
- Spine has four main curves that help you keep your balance and stand straight.
- The spine is composed of bony blocks called “vertebrae” that are stacked on top of one another and separated by shock-absorbing discs. The neck has seven vertebrae. The chest has twelve vertebrae, each carrying two ribs. There are five vertebrae in the low back or lumbar area. The remaining fused vertebrae create a solid base called the “sacrum” and the “coccyx” or tailbone.
- Discs act as cushions between the vertebrae. They have a very strong, tough outer casing with a firm jelly-like substance inside. Discs are firmly attached to the vertebra above and below and can withstand considerable compression.
- Muscles, tendons and ligaments support your back and help you move. Nerves carry messages between your brain and your muscle
- Support the trunk and the head
- Allow flexibility of the body
- Protect the spinal cord
The main functions of the spine are to :-
Maintain a good posture
- Poor posture can strain ligaments in your back
- Gravity is always trying to pull us down and this combined with bad habits can mean we stand and sit in ways that aren’t good for our back.
- When we hold awkward postures for hours at a time we put additional strain on the back muscles and stress on the spineless and stress on the spine.
- Learning and practising good posture can help prevent back pain.
Correct Sitting Posture
- Sit well back into the chair. It should support your lower back, Do not sit for long periods.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor. If your feet do not reach the floor, adjust the height of the chair or use a footrest.
- Not using proper chairs causes muscle-fatigue and back-pain.
A well designed chair
The correct seat back should have an angle of 105 degrees with the horizontal. Its length should be 17 inches.
- While sitting in a chair the position of the knees should be a little higher than the level of your thighs.
- Footrest of appropriate height may be used to put the knees higher than the thighs.
- Use tables or desks that are slightly higher than your waist level in the front, and at-waist-level on the sides to enable you to work with a straight neck.
- Those who work for longer hours on the computer must place the computer screen exactly at eye-level. The keyboard should be placed in such a way that forearms rest on the table. This eliminates arm muscle fatigue.
- While typing from a document, place the document upright on a special stand so that improper neck movements do not strain the neck
Use chairs with armrests on both sides and rest your arms on the arm rests while sitting.
Correct Posture in Car
- While getting into a car, after opening the door, turn outside, and simply sit down on the car seat. Then lift your feet one by one inside the car and turn your face to the front of the car.
- Sit a comfortable distance from the foot pedals and steering wheel
- Sit well back into the car seat. It should support your lower back
- If you are driving a long distance, take regular breaks to walk and stretch.
- If the back of the seat does not support you properly, use a small cushion orfolded towel at the small of your back
Correct Standing Posture
- Backache can be prevented by placing a foot on a footrest. Put the other foot on the foot rest after some time. Repeat this at regular intervals. This relaxes the back-muscles.
- How to stand for long hours The ideal work tables for professionals should be at elbow level. For writing and drawing there should be a flat surface at 20 degree inclination with the horizontal so that the person can look down without bending his/her back.
- Correct Footwear Wearing high-heeled shoes places back-muscles under great strain and pressure, especial when standing for a long of time. Prefer using flat heeled shoes instead of high heels.
Lift only what you are able to lift safely.
- Get help ifyou need it.
- Use available equipment.
- Keep a firm grip on the load.
- When turning, move yourfeet instead of twisting your body.
- Do not bend down from your waist to pick up anything on the floor. Keep your back straight, bend your knees and squat down, so that your legs, not your back, do the work.
- When you lift weight, keep whatever you are lifting close to your body.
- While walking, distribute the weight evenly in both hands. For example: carry two buckets of water in both hands, instead of one heavy bucket in one hand.
How to carry a heavy Bag
- Don’t hang a heavy bag from the shoulder.
- Sling it around the neck at a cross-angle.
- This way the spine is able to remain in a balanced position.
Advice for school children
- A back-pack with two shoulder straps, where the weight is evenly distributed on both sides, is the best way to keep the spine strain-free.
- When you are packing a bag, such as a school bag or backpack, only pack what is needed. Pack the heaviest objects closest to the child’s back.
- Pushing better than pulling – when you need to shift objects, prefer to push them rather than pull them.
- Correct Postures in Housework – While performing tasks like sweeping, mopping the floor, making beds and cleaning the house, bend from the knees rather than from the back.
- Use a vacuum cleaner and a mop at the end of a stick.
- Sit on a stool as tall as the kitchen platform while cooking.
Height of kitchen and bathroom sinks
- Kitchen and bathroom sinks should always be a little above the waist level.
- Where the sinks are set into platforms, there should be very little space between the basin and the platform-edge, in order to avoid bending down while you wash hands, dishes, vegetables etc.
- The taps should be fixed at such a height that you don’t have to bend forward while working.
Back care during pregnancy
Hormone changes during pregnancy cause the ligaments around your pelvis to loosen. During and after pregnancy you need to be careful not to put strain on your back.
- While sleeping on the back, a pillow should be placed under both knees, so that back- muscles are relaxed. It is advisable to sleep on one side with both knees bent, and a pillow between the legs.
- While breast-feeding, sleep on one side, or sit up straight in a chair and place your child on a pillow in your lap.
- While changing nappies or the baby’s clothes, place the baby on a table so that you do not have to bend down.
Back & Neck Posture in Children
- Make sure your child takes breaks from sitting.
- Encourage your child to be active.
- The height of the child’s desk must be a little higher than the child’s waist height while studying.
- Inclination pads should be placed on study- tables of children. This ensures that their back and neck remain straight while
reading, writing and drawing. They should be able to look at their books without bending their neck and back.
A fatty diet and a sedentary lifestyle increase weight. Being overweight contributes to back-pain. A large stomach or pot-belly increases pressure on the lumbar vertebrae and causes persistent and frequent back pain.
Use of tobacco increases nicotine in blood, which constricts blood-vessels and prevents the healing process if discs or muscles have been damaged. As a result the pain is pro- longed.
Cradling mobile-phones between the neck and shoulder while driving or performing other tasks increases the possibility of neck-pain. Telephone operators should use head- phones or blue-tooth technology so they can work with their necks straight.
Regular physical activity will help keep your back strong and flexible. Aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity, most days of the week. Walking, swimming, gentle jogging, yoga and cycling are some physical activities you might enjoy. Build physical activity into your everyday life. For example, use the stairs instead of the lift.
Specific exercises that strengthen your abdominal (stomach) and back muscles can help prevent back pain.