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Sunday, February 04, 2007

avoid Back Pain

avoid Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in this country. Eighty percent of the population will have some sort of serious back pain in their lives. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, work-related back injuries are the nation's number one occupational hazard.

It's important to see a doctor if you find yourself experiencing back pain often. A doctor can help determine of there are any underlying medical problems, such as injury or disease, that could be triggering the pain. (Read about other causes of "Back Pain") The Spine

Among some of the possibilities are:

* Injury to a disk, i.e. one of the cushioning pads between the bones of your back (Read about "The Spine")
* Muscle strain or injury (Read about "Strains")
* Diseases such as arthritis (Read about "Arthritis")

If it turns out there are no underlying medical problems, back pain can sometimes be helped by lifestyle changes. One thing that can affect the way your back feels is your posture. If, as you read this, you just straightened up - you're not alone. Many of us tend to slouch at our desks or chairs. Unfortunately, slouching and leaning for extended periods of time can cause back problems. So it's a good idea to make an effort to use chairs that give your back good support and to avoid slouching as much as possible.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says proper lifting techniques, such as bending and using the stronger muscles of your leg to lift instead of bending from the waist, are also important. It can also be a good idea to practice proper lifting at all times regardless of weight, so you get in the habit.

Weight loss and your back

Carrying around excess weight is another common cause of back discomfort, especially if you tend to put the excess weight on around your stomach. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, weight that hangs out in front can cause chronic spasms in the lower back region. Excess weight can also result in disk degeneration and arthritis in the spine. So if you are overweight (Read about "Obesity"), ask your doctor about a diet and exercise program to help you get back to your ideal weight. (Read about "Losing Weight")

Exercise and your back

Even if your weight is normal, your doctor may determine that your back discomfort problems can still be helped through exercise. In this case, he or she can suggest a regimen of strengthening and stretching exercises for both your back as well as for your abdominal muscles. The right exercises - done on a regular basis - can improve strength and flexibility and reduce your risk of more back problems later on.

For people who have no back problems - and want to keep things that way - exercise can be the key to help keep things running smoothly. The American Council on Exercise suggests gentle exercises such as yoga (Read about yoga in "CAM Therapies") or tai chi for flexibility. In addition, strength training exercises for your abdominal, back and leg muscles can also help to keep your back in good condition.

Make sure a trained physical therapist shows you the correct way to do specific exercises. Many exercises, such as sit-ups or back extensions, can actually do more harm than good when they're done incorrectly. Remember too that, in general, people should avoid exercises that cause excess discomfort. And always talk with your doctor first, especially if you're already experiencing back pain.


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