Category Archives: Safety

Practice Proper Sitting Posture

Maintaining proper posture can work wonders both preventing and alleviating back pain. We’ve already covered how to achieve great posture while standing and believe it’s time to cover sitting posture.

The majority of us spend most of our days in the seated position. Whether it’s spent at a desk, at the table, or in your car, it’s important to keep the correct sitting posture in mind.Did you know that proper posture can help prevent and alleviate back pain? Click To Tweet

Proper sitting posture

While your mother was correct in telling you to sit up straight for all of those years, the advice ‘sit up straight as a rail’ isn’t quite correct. In fact, you never want your back to be completely straight, as it is naturally curved. When practicing proper sitting posture, remember to maintain those three natural curves in your back.

Follow the steps below to ensure you have good sitting posture.

  • Sit with your back straight and shoulders back.
  • Ensure your body weight is distributed evenly on both hips.
  • Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, keeping the height of your knees even with your hips.
  • Rest your feet flat on the floor or a footrest if needed to keep your knees aligned with your hips.
  • Try to not sit in the same position for more than 30 minutes.

Sitting posture check

Now that you know how to achieve good posture while sitting, here’s a little test to make sure you’re sitting correctly.

Begin by sitting at the end of your chair and slouch. Sit up as straight as you can, accentuating the curve of your back as much as possible and hold for a few seconds. Release the position into a comfortable, upright position. What you’re feeling now is proper sitting posture.

If you’re interested in more healthy back tips like this one, please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or register for our monthly email newsletter.

How To Safely Shovel Snow

Injuries sustained while shoveling snow are a common but preventable winter problem. Would you believe us if we told you that as many as 11,000 people visit a hospital every year for injuries that occurred while shoveling snow? The most common injuries experienced include back problems, broken bones, head injuries, and heart problems.

Luckily, as we mentioned above, these injuries are largely preventable. Below are some tips we’ve compiled to help you through this winter injury-free!

Choose the right shovel.

When purchasing a shovel, look for one with a curved handle or one that is adjustable in length, to help minimize the amount of bending you will be doing. Also, try to choose one that is small and lightweight. You’re already going to be scooping up heavy snow, why add more weight to lift on top of that?

Warm up before heading out to shovel.

Yes, we mean warm up like you would before heading to the gym. Cold, tight muscles are much more prone to injury. So, 5-10 minutes before you head out, perform the following activities:

  • Get your blood pumping with a brisk walk.
  • Stretch your lower back muscles and hamstrings.
  • Loosen up your arms and shoulders with a 30-60 second body hug.

Use proper lifting techniques.

Whenever possible, push the snow to the side instead of lifting it. When you do have to lift it, follow these lifting tips:

  • Always face the direction you are lifting.
  • Bend at your hips and lift with your legs, not your back.
  • Keep your loads light and know your limits.
  • Avoid twisting your back. Instead, pivot your entire body.
  • In deep snow, remove several inches off of the top at a time.

Pace yourself.

When possible, remove the snow over a period of hours or days. If that’s not possible, make sure to take frequent breaks to avoid overexerting yourself.

If you’re nervous about sustaining an injury, it’s important to remember there are alternatives to shoveling snow. Using a snow blower whenever possible can significantly reduce your risk of injury. You can also ask a friend or family member to do it for you, or hire a service.

If you do decide to shovel snow yourself, following the tips above will help set yourself up for a pain-free winter. If you do begin to experience back pain, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Don’t Forget the Back in “Back To School!”

“Oh, my achin’ back!” isn’t something you’d expect to hear from your child. Youth can be a benefit when it comes to your back health; but, there are some things that parents should be cautious about when it comes to their child’s back.

Back to school means finding the right backpack for your child – this is an accessory they will be carrying for hours each day for the next 9 months. While a great convenience for hauling textbooks and homework, carrying a backpack can be problematic. Backpacks that are too heavy or worn incorrectly can result in an aching back and shoulders, tingling arms, weakened muscles, and stooped posture. The back will compensate for any weight that it is required to carry, but, the consequences can distort the natural curve of the spine, round the shoulders, and cause imbalance and fall risks.

First, you’ll want to choose the best backpack for your child. When selecting a backpack, ensure that it is the correct size for your child. When selecting a backpack, it should be approximately two inches below the shoulder blades to waist level, or slightly above the waist. It should rest comfortably at that height and shouldn’t sink below the waistline. Choose a lightweight material such as canvas instead of a heavier material like leather. It should have two, padded shoulder straps – avoid a one shouldered bag to help the weight to distribute evenly across your child’s back. If the bag might tend to be loaded on the heavier side, choose one that has a hip belt to help relieve some of the weight from the back to the pelvis. You might even consider a rolling bag rather than one that is worn on the back.

Once you’ve selected the correct (and obviously the coolest) backpack, you’ll want to make sure that it is used appropriately. Distribute weight evenly. Load heaviest items closest to your child’s back and balance materials so that they can easily stand up straight. Arrange the load so that it does not shift and cause imbalance. Check that the packed backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight. If your child weighs 80 lbs., their backpack should never exceed 8 lbs. If it does, clean out the backpack regularly to eliminate excess or unneeded items. If it has a hip strap, encourage them to use it to help alleviate the strain on the back and shoulders. Always ensure all of the zippers and compartments are closed. If your child does begin to complain of shoulder, neck or back pain, it might be time to reevaluate what backpack they are using.

Remember the most important thing to remember when keeping your child’s spine safe and loading up the school backpack is to “Pack it Light, Wear it Right!”

Summer: Fun and Safety

Summer has officially started and with the Fourth of July right around the corner, we know that there are some wonderful summertime activities planned. Summer means vacations, pool parties, barbecues and, of course, heat. It is a wonderful time to change up your exercise routine with a new summer friendly activity. For those of you who manage back problems, the summer can present a new set of issues: the heat and humidity that the summertime brings can increase pain levels. For those of you who don’t worry about back pain, the summertime can present a new set of dangers that may cause injury.

One of the advantages of summer is that it offers the chance for low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming. Swimming can help rehabilitate your back while giving you a great workout. You can try water therapy or aerobic classes. Omaha Parks offers a fun line-up of water based activities for the summer. If swimming isn’t your thing, you can take your bike to the many trails in the area. Biking is gentle on the lower back while allowing you to burn a lot of calories.  Another effective low-impact workout is walking. If you’re a golfer, it’s a great way to get in those steps if your leave behind the cart.

However, the extreme heat of summer can be dangerous if you are planning activities outdoors.  Remember to push yourself without exceeding your limits. A muscle strain or tear can be painful and temporarily keep you from your everyday activities. Hydration is equally important and water is best. Always bring a water bottle with you on any outdoor adventure to avoid heat exhaustion. With any new exercise regimen, make sure you consult with your doctor before beginning.

Swimming and watersports are synonymous with summertime. While we encourage you to take advantage of the benefits of swimming, we also want to emphasize safety. Whether you are swimming for sport or recreation, safety comes first. If you are jumping or diving into water, ensure that it is deep enough to clear. Head and neck injuries are common and devastating injuries in the summertime when revelers dive into too shallow water. Water Skiing, while fun, can present serious injuries due to falls at high speed. Experienced water skiers can often fall in a manner that will prevent injury. If you are a novice, it is best to take things slow; don’t become overconfident in your skill level, and develop a good communication and signal system with the boat captain.

If you find your pain being impacted by the summer weather, you might consider some additional pain relieving techniques. During these times, if your pain flares, you can try icing the area of pain. Continue to use your normal pain management protocol. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try adding a ginger supplement to help with pain management. Recently, it was discovered that ginger helped ease the pain of osteoarthritis in some sufferers. Of course, consult with your doctor before making a change to your diet or pain protocol.

The summertime brings the opportunity to travel and experience new outdoor activities. It can also bring pain inducing weather and more chances for injury, so be careful while you enjoy the nice weather! If you have questions about starting a new exercise routine or pain management this summer, contact us to talk about it!