Hello readers! Our next few posts will address one of the most common complaints that physiotherapists treat in the community: low back injuries.
Did you know 60-90% of Canadians will experience low back pain in their lifetime? The good news is that most back pain will get better within 2 weeks. However, 75% of people will reinjure their back at some point later in their life.
Awareness about low back pain is even more significant for caregivers. Research has shown that caregivers report more back pain and display more back weakness and postural strain than non-caregivers.
This finding is not a surprise when you consider the amount of forward bending in caregiving tasks like helping someone to bathe and dress. Physical strain in combination with typically heightened emotional stress and muscle tension is a recipe for back injury!
3 Keys in the Prevention of Low Back Pain:
The most important element to prevent low back pain is being physically active on a regular basis. Choose a variety of exercise types such as swimming, aerobics or walking, and Pilates or yoga to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the spine. Regular exerise will also promote weight loss if you are overweight, another key factor in trying to prevent a back injury.
It is also important to include stretching of your low back and the muscles in your legs including hip flexors and hamstrings, at least 3-4 times per week.
Keep your spine in line when walking, standing or sitting. When sitting choose a chair that has a good back support and sit with your feet on the floor instead of propped up or folded underneath you.
Take a look at your shoes- try to choose footwear without a high heel with firm cushioning and arch support.
Take your time when you are lifting! A brief moment to plan your lifting strategy and optimize your position can make an enormous difference in preventing a back injury.
Avoid sudden movements, and try never to combine lifting and twisting. Bring the object or person you are lifting as close as possible to your body, and use your legs to do the work, not the muscles of your back.
Please check back next week for specific low back recommendations for caregivers!