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Last week, I went on a gardening spree. I haven’t had the time to do the regular around-the-house chores lately, including proper gardening, so I decided to take a weekend off and catch up with the work. The upside is that my garden looks absolutely impeccable now.The downside is that my back was aching so bad I could barely walk.
Clearly, I shouldnt have have done all the work in one weekend, but never have I thought I’d get so much pain at the end of the day. My back was painfully stiff and the only position that got me a bit of relief was lying on my back in bed. So I spent almost an entire Sunday lying in this position, hoping the pain would just go away. But after a while (and two painkillers), it only got worse. So at some point, I finally got out of bed and searched the Internet, my old friend, for some backache remedies.
Turns out, everything I did was wrong. And not only that I could have got rid of the pain much faster, but I could have prevented it if I had known a few simple rules.
Today, we’re going to talk about preventing back pain and next time, about managing it. So please read this carefully if you sometimes get back pains, as well. It will help you a great deal.
#1. Avoid Heavy Lifting If At All Possible
The first step is avoidance. Don’t be shy to ask someone stronger for help. Often they will enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate their strength. Also, look into the possibility of using hand trucks, carts, furniture dollies, tailgate lifts and other mechanical assistance whenever possible.
#2. Use Good Lifting Technique
If you really must lift heavy objects, you need to use the squat lift if you don’t want to put a lot of stress on your spine. Here’s what a squat lift is, according to Discovery Fit & Health:
“After you have determined that you can lift the object, position yourself over the object, with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Try to get the object between your legs, when possible, so that you don’t have to reach out for it.
Squat down, keeping your head up, shoulders back, and spine erect. The bending should come only from your hips, knees, and ankles. Next, get a good hold on the object, and finally, lift the object with your head up. Use your legs to lift. Your leg muscles are the biggest, strongest muscles in your body, and even though it takes more energy to use them, they can handle a lift better than your back can.
Keep the object close to your body; lifting or holding an object up close to your stomach rather than at arm’s length greatly reduces the stress on your back and spine. Remember that what goes up must come down, so set the object down using the same technique you used to lift it.”
Even though lifting heavy objects puts a lot more stress on your spine, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to be careful when lifting lighter things. For this situation, you’ve got the golfer’s lift:
“With this method, all you need is some support (a chair, a desk, or a putter) to put your hand on to take the load off of your back as you bend over.
Here is how it works. First, face the object you are going to lift, and place all of your body weight on one leg. Place the opposite hand on a support, and bend straight over from the hip; your weighted knee can bend slightly, too. Keep your head up and your spine erect in a straight line. As you bend, let the leg with no weight on it come off of the ground in line with the upper body. This leg acts as a counterbalance to the weight of the upper body, making it easier to come back up without using the muscles of the lower back, which don’t have the leverage.”
#3. Careful How You Move Objects
The best piece of advice I can give you here (which I’ve tested myself and it really works) is to push the objects you want to move, and not to pull them. Just lean down, keep your spine straight, and use your arms and legs to push it.
DO NOT carry heavy objects in your arms! This will give you a killer backache.
Another suggestion would be not to bend and twist while moving heavy objects or carrying lighter ones. When you bend over to grab an object and then twist, your spine gets way too much pressure and, on the long term, you’ll get some serious chronic pain that’s very hard to get rid of. So just try to keep bending and twisting to the minimum, even if it takes you some extra time to position yourself properly before grabbing the object the right way. Remember, it’s your health on the line here.
#4. Give your back some support
Even though they’re comfortable, couches have a negative effect on your back. They don’t offer much support, so your spine bends and twists in unnatural ways.
So from now on, sit in firm chairs instead of couches, to help support your lower back. To make it even more efficient, support this area with a pillow.
#5: Drink lots of water
According to She Knows, this will help keep the spongy discs of the back hydrated. If they’re dehydrated, they shrink and cause back pains, to remind you it’s time to give them water.
It’s important not to replace water with coffee or soda, as they cause dehydration (even if they’re liquids). So drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your spine healthy.
#6. Stretch Your Hamstrings Twice Daily
I read this on Spine-Health and, ever since I’ve been doing this easy exercise, I’ve been feeling a lot better. And it doesn’t even take more than 10 minutes a day: 5 in the morning and 5 in the evening.
Just make sure you don’t do it right after you wake up, because your spine needs about 30 minutes to get used to the vertical position, after a night of sitting horizontally.
You can also repeat the stretch when your back starts to hurt. Don’t let the pain grow bigger. Take a 5-minute break and do some stretching. Works like magic!
(note – this article is not medical advice)
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