How to Prevent Back Injury

Injuring your back results in a painful recovery process, and has debilitating effects on your ability to work, run a household, and pursue your favorite activities. Unfortunately, injuring your back is easier than fixing it, so prevention is key to avoiding long and often painful treatment. Most back injuries occur when you use your back improperly; to avoid this possibility, it is important to practice a few basic rules on lifting, exercise, and posture.


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    Exercise. Strong back and stomach muscles are essential in order to free your back from strain throughout each day. Simple back-toning exercises strengthen your back and reduce stress. Such exercises can better your appearance, as well, so you get dual benefits.
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    Lose weight. Excess weight and a large belly create added pressure on back and stomach muscles. Your back compensates for the added weight in front of you by swaying backwards. This causes an overabundance of strain on the lower back muscles and places your posture out of alignment. Losing weight can lessen the burden and pain in your back.
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    Maintain good posture while awake or asleep. Many back pains can be prevented by learning to stand and sit in the proper manner. You can also help prevent back pain by sleeping on the right mattress in the correct position, and even while driving.
    • Stand tall - keep your head up and your shoulders back, keep your neck aligned with your body
    • Don't slump over in a slovenly posture when sitting. Slouching causes the back ligaments (not the muscles) to elongate and they will start to hurt, putting undesired pressure on the vertebrae
    • Sit up straight. Place your back against the back of the chair. Put your feet flat on the floor with your knees a tad higher than your hips
    • Sleep on a firm mattress. If you want, you can place plywood between your box springs and mattress. Either way provides acceptable back support. A soft mattress could bring about a back sprain or sway back (abnormal sagging of the spine); if a hard mattress is not your cup of tea, look for mattresses that are posture tested and ask the salesperson to find a mattress that will provide support and comfort - be prepared to pay a little more for this but it is worth if for your health's sake
    • Try to sleep on your side with your knees bent. Or, sleep on your back and place a pillow under your knees; this is especially helpful for pregnant women and those who are overweight
    • While you are driving, place your back against the seat and sit close enough to the wheel so that your knees are bent slightly higher than your hips; some people use small seat cushion rolls to help prevent sagging back into the base of the car seat.
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    Lift properly. Improper lifting techniques result in unnecessary strain on the back and the surrounding muscles. To reduce strain on your back, it is essential to plan every lift in advance. Stop and think about the following:
    • How much does the item weigh? Is it bulky?
    • How far will the item be moved?
    • Will you need help? Be honest when assessing this question.
    • Are there any hazards that could be removed?
    • Is there equipment available that could be used safely to assist the lift?
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    After addressing these questions:
    • Align your body correctly in front of the object. Place your feet straddling the object, one foot slightly in front of the other for added balance.
    • Squat down by bending your knees, not your stomach and back.
    • Grab the load tightly using both hands. Bring the object as close to your body as you can. This helps to distribute the weight of the object over your feet, making the move less difficult.
    • Slowly unbend your legs until you are standing upright.
    • Make sure that the object is not blocking your line of sight, and walk slowly. If vision is impaired and you need to look around the object, turn by moving your feet. Do not twist your back to see where you are going!
    • When you have reached the area the item will be placed, squat down as you did before (bending at the knees) and place the object out in front of you. If you are placing the object at table height, maintain contact with the object until you are sure it is firmly in place and will not fall.


  • If you are concerned that an object you need to move may be too heavy or bulky for you to carry alone, never be afraid to ask for help. If no one is around to help, try carrying the item as two loads or use a dolly or moving cart.
  • Always check with your health care provider before beginning any diet plan.
  • Talk to your doctor to discuss exercises that are best for you.


  • Never attempt to lift an object that is too heavy for you to carry. There are no medals for martyrdom and it will be your job and lifestyle that suffer if you twist your back out of shape.
  • There is a lack of scientific evidence that back belts work in preventing back injuries. Do not assume that back belts are protective.

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Categories: Injury and Accidents