Exercise Guide for Low Back Pain

Prevention

General prevention of back pain:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain the strength in your torso and legs, in particular your abdominal muscles. You can do this through exercises that specifically target these muscles, or through exercise programs that work on your entire body (for example, see Pilates section in Other Methods).
  • Stay active, even if you engage in low-stress activities like walking for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week.
  • Avoid footwear that alters your walking pattern, especially high-heeled shoes.

If you are at risk of developing weak bones or osteoporosis, you should see your GP. Risk factors include being female and post-menopausal.

Prevention at Home

Minimise the risk of back injury when performing heavy activities, for example:

  • Push, don't pull furniture and heavy objects.
  • Avoiding twisting and over-stretching - take time rather than using short-cuts.
  • Lift using your thighs, not your back. If possible divide the load into smaller packages - for example, make multiple trips when carrying groceries from the car to the kitchen rather than overloading.
  • When driving, maintain a upright posture rather than slouching, and keep the seat, mirrors and seatbelt adjusted for maximum comfort.

Prevention in the workplace

Most Australian workplaces now provide OH&S information that caters towards specific risks in that workplace. You can talk to your manager, HR representative of OH&S representative about minimising the risks of back pain.

Some general rules include:

  • Lifting & carrying objects
    • You can protect your back by lifting heavy objects with your legs rather than your spine. To do this, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then keep your back straight as you bend your knees and hips to grasp the object. When you stand, your back should remain vertical while your legs, in particular your strong quadriceps in your thighs, push you upright.
    • When carrying objects, try to hold your load as close to your chest as possible.
  • Sitting down. When sitting for long periods at a desk or computer you can protect your back by:
    • Maintaining a straight posture. Your lumbar spine is supported when you feel a slightinward curve along your lower back rather than the outward curve you get when you slouch. Some people can visualise this by thinking of a balloon on a string gently lifting their head up.
10 November, 2011