Everyday Low Back Savers


Low back pain is miserable and it unfortunately affects the overwhelming majority of people at some point in their lifetimes. Although the odds are against us, there are some things you can do to minimize your risk:

  • Wait about an hour after rising from bed before performing any large movements that involve your low back.
  • Avoid extended sitting.  Get up at least once per hour, but optimally every 15-20 minutes.  Stand for 20‐30 seconds, then perform a few gentle stretches (like the one  below).  Keep your abdomen firm, take a deep breath and exhale through each stretch, repeating several times.
Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip Flexor Stretch

Consistently shift your position while sitting.  Moving helps reduce low back stress by shifting the load between structures.  There isn’t a single best seated posture.

When you have to lift something:

  • If you’ve been seated for longer than 20 minutes, stand for a few minutes before you lift.
  • Practice your posture and lifting technique prior to lifting.  Focus on keeping your midsection firm and hinge from your hips to use the big muscles in your hips.
  • —Hip Hinge  ‐ maintain your neutral low back curve and move through your hips rather than your low back.  Perform a pre‐lift abdominal contraction to promote core stability and minimize risk to your low back.
The Hip Hinge

The Hip Hinge

  • Keep the object you’re lifting close to you at your body’s midline.
  • —If lifting something heavy, use momentum from your hips to move the load rather than lifting slowly.  This will minimize the impact on your low back.
  • Avoid twisting through your back when you lift.  Move your feet if you must turn.
  • Stay active and maintain a reasonable level of fitness.  Keeping the rest of your system healthy will help you maintain your low back health.
  • —If you walk for cardiovascular exercise, walk fast and swing your arms from your shoulders.  Fast walking is easier on your low back than slow walking, and better cardiovascular exercise to boot!

Looking for additional tips on how to prevent or address low back pain? Join me for a live Twitter chat on Friday 7/26 at 10:30am. Tweet your questions or comments to the hashtag #LowBackChat, or email them to me in advance at mbento@partners.org if you can’t make the chat!

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Michael Bento is an Advanced Trainer at the Clubs at Charles River Park. He holds a Masters degree in Human Movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist.

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