A Path of Prevention
Although health and fitness experts agree that exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do to avoid most painful and annoying back problems, they recommend talking to your doctor first before beginning a new exercise program.
You can take the following preventative measures to help ensure the health of your back:
- Avoid heavy lifting or pushing that can strain your back. Slow down when your body signals that you may be driving yourself too hard.
- Don't stand for extended periods of time. Sitting down can ease the strain your back.
- Wear comfortable shoes for support. Heels should be no more than one and one-half inches high.
- Never bend from the waist when reaching down. Since the large muscles of your legs are stronger than your back muscles, bend at the knees.
- Carry objects by holding them close to your body so your back muscles don't have to work as hard.
- If you have to sit for long periods, stand up and stretch at least every hour.
- Use the muscles of your arms and legs to push yourself up from a sitting or lying position.
Tips to Ease Discomfort
- For the first 24 hours after the onset of pain, apply ice packs to the sensitive area for 20 minutes to reduce pain and inflammation. Repeat every 30 minutes as necessary.
- Ask your doctor to recommend a safe, over-the-counter medication if you need it to relieve pain. Never take any kind of medicine without your doctor's approval.
- Try sleeping on a firm mattress. For more support, put a three-quarter-inch thick board between the mattress and the box spring.
- Visit a massage therapist or ask your spouse to give you a back rub. A massage can feel great when you have a tired, aching back.
- For quick tension relief, try closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and counting backward from 100.
- Don't gain more weight during pregnancy than your doctor recommends. The added weight of the baby in front already stresses the spine and puts added strain on back muscles.