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Follow These Simple Guidelines To Keep Your Back In Good Shape:
1. Standing… keeping one foot forward of the other, with knees slightly bent, takes the pressure off your low back.
2. Sitting… sitting with your knees slightly higher than your hips provides good low back support.
3. Reaching… stand on a stool to reach things that are above your shoulder level.
4. Moving Heavy Items… pushing is easier on your back than pulling. Use your arms and legs to start the push. If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.
5. Lifting… kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor as near as possible to the item you are lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back, keeping the object close to your body at all times.
6. Carrying… two small objects (one in either hand) may be easier to handle than one large one. If you must carry one large object, keep it close to your body.
7. Sleeping… sleeping on your back puts 55 lbs. of pressure on your back. Putting a couple of pillows under your knees cuts the pressure in half. Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees also reduces the pressure.
8. Weight Control… additional weight puts a strain on your back. Keep within 10 lbs. of your ideal weight for a healthier back.
10. Minor Back Pain… treat minor back pain with anti-inflammatory and gentle stretching, followed by an ice pack.
The ABCs of Backpacks
More than 40 million students head off to class each day with backpacks slung over their shoulders. About 20 million of those students are carrying twice the recommended weight on the back which can lead to stress injuries and spinal pain that can worsen with age.
According to a survey conducted by the North American Spine Society, 42.6% of NASS member physicians have treated children or teens suffering from back pain or spine trauma caused by overloaded or improperly used backpacks. The diagnoses range from cervical, thoracic and lumbar strain to spondylolysis, a stress fracture in a vertebra.
To raise awareness of this issue, the spine care providers of the North American Spine Society came up with the ABC’s of Backpacking – tips for preventing backpack injuries.
A: Allow wheels
Keeping one foot forward of the other, with knees slightly bent, takes the pressure off your low back.
B: Back to basics
20.8% of the spine specialists polled recommend the traditional style backpack. If you opt for this style, make sure the pack has two thick, padded straps along with a waist strap for added lumbar support.
C: Comfort counts
30.7% of NASS members recommend that parents don’t buy the first back pack they see. It’s important to make sure the backpack feels comfortable to the child and the straps can be adjusted for a tight fit.
D: Don’t overload
Whatever backpack style parents choose for their children, it’s important to remember it’s what is inside that really counts! In fact, 64% of those surveyed claim that overloading the pack is the number one way children and teens improperly use their backpacks. All of the doctors surveyed agreed that the size of the pack should be proportionate to the child, NOT to the size of the items he will be carrying.
E: Everything is too much
Pack only what you need! NASS members recommend that the pack should weigh no more than 10-15% of the child’s body weight.
F: Fit your frame
Always use both straps and adjust them snugly on your shoulders.
G: Get organized
Organize the pack so the heavy items are closest to your back. Use smaller compartments to help store loose items and distribute the weight evenly.
H: Heavy hurts!
Don’t carry more than you can handle. Make frequent stops to unload the pack. Encourage your child not to carry all the books they will need for the day. Former NASS President Joel Press, MD, a leading physiatrist at the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute, says, “When used properly, backpacks are a great way for kids to carry their schoolbooks and supplies they need throughout the day. Parents should be sure and ask their children if they feel any pain in the back or the neck. And, if a child is experiencing discomfort, be sure and take it seriously and see a specialist.” If parents are concerned about the heavy school loads children and teens are carrying on a daily basis, they can also- a. Contact the school and work with teachers to identify ways to lighten the load. b. Ask for a second set of books – one set for home and the other to be left at school (another cost effective option is to make photocopies of the week’s book chapters at the library). c. Encourage children to be active and to strengthen the muscles in and around the back and neck to protect and aid in injury prevention.
d) Preventing osteoporosis
The best prevention begins in childhood. However, it is never too late to make small but effective changes that can stave off or even reverse bone loss. Your risk of developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass you build between ages 25 and 35 (peak bone mass) and how quickly you lose it as you grow older. The higher your peak bone mass, the more bone you have “in the bank” and the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis during normal aging. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D (which is essential for absorbing calcium) and exercising regularly can help ensure that your bones stay strong.
Calcium. The skeleton contains 99% of the body’s calcium. Calcium is necessary for the proper functioning of the heart, nerves and muscles and is involved in vital functions from blood clotting to muscle contraction. As profoundly important as calcium is to these essential body functions, your skeleton’s health is so dependent on this mineral that it uses all but 1% of your body’s calcium. A diet low in calcium contributes to your risk for osteoporosis. Milk and dairy products as well as leafy green vegetables provide the calcium bones need.
Vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. Not getting enough vitamin D can cause your body to use the calcium stored in your bones. Sources of vitamin D include fortified milk, cod liver oil, egg yolks, liver and fatty fish such as salmon.
Exercise is crucial to good bone health. In particular, weight-bearing exercises (including but not limited to weightlifting, jogging, walking, hiking, stair climbing and push-ups) help increase bone strength. Please check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Lifestyle. Stop smoking. There are many dire health consequences of using tobacco. Add bone loss to that list. Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to increased bone loss. Avoid fad diets. Fad diets often restrict food consumption to the point that you may not be consuming what your body needs. Eat a well-balanced diet and consult with your doctor for advice if you need to lose weight.