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Back problems are very real for millions of people. And when your back is injured, it affects everything you do, every little movement you make. Some can be very, very serious and require surgery and others can be fixed with ice and proper rest. But even if your job doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion, a back injury can still be devastating. Here are some tips on how to protect your back.

Protect Your Back Today – It Will Thank You Later

Back problems are common

It’s estimated that 80% of American adults experience back pain at some point in their lives. They can be a long time coming, even though the slightest, smallest action might be what triggers the pain. There are a lot of things that put our backs at risk for injury—playing with your kids, working in the yard, working out at the gym, or lifting in small, awkward spaces.

The spine is the center of your body

The spine curves in three places—at the neck or cervical, at the mid-back, the thoracic, and at the lower back, the lumbar. It helps you move and absorbs shock. As long as you maintain good posture, your back is prepared to make any movement you need to make. But when your back is in an awkward position, your muscles are at their weakest formation and you’re at greatest risk for injuring your back.

Stretch and exercise

You can reduce back injuries by stretching every day. Work demands a lot of your body, so you need to take the time to properly stretch before work. In less than five minutes, you can warm up and loosen your muscles. Stretch your hamstrings, your lower back, your side torso in both directions and your quads. Perform each three times, for 12-15 seconds. Stretching shouldn’t hurt, so if you feel pain ease up. Never bounce—move slowly and steadily.

Body mechanics

You can also be mindful of good body mechanics to limit your chances for injury. You need to keep the load close to your body and maintain the natural curves in your spine. When the load is far away from your body, it becomes heavier and you’ll put more pressure on your spine. Be mindful when you’re lifting. Injuries tend to happen most when you’re rushed or tired.

More lifting tips

The most difficult lift is from the floor up to the first six inches, so get down on one knee, lift the load to your body. Use your whole hand to lift, not just your fingertips. Store materials on shelves so you don’t have to lift objects from the floor. Check the weight of the load and get help if you need it. Relieve the stress on your back by taking breaks to sit or stretch.

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