Avoid Stressing Your Back

Reaching at DeskTips to Minimize Stress at the Desk

  • Don't lean over the desk for prolonged periods of time.
  • Don't sit too far from the work and/or with the back unsupported.
  • Raise or lower the chair to the proper height so the knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. The elbows may rest on the work surface.
  • Don't bend or twist the neck to cradle the phone against the shoulder.

How to Maintain a Neutral Spine While Standing
The feet should be placed slightly apart with the knees straight and chin tucked in to maintain a neutral spine. Do not stand in one position for a prolonged period of time; shift the weight from one foot to the other frequently. Using a footstool to elevate each foot from time to time may be helpful.

Proper Posture
Proper posture means maintaining the natural curve of the spine (neutral spine). Not only should proper posture be used when standing or sitting, but also it should be incorporated into all activities of daily living—thereby minimizing the amount of harmful stress the spine must bear. Proper posture is so important that it may be one of the first things the physical therapist teaches the patient.

What does proper posture look like?
Imagine a plumb line hanging from the ear lobe. When proper posture is assumed, the plumb line will drop straight down the middle of the arm to the ankle.

Why is this so important?
Poor posture and incorrect body mechanics are two of the leading causes of neck and back pain.

Spine Safety:  Carrying

  • First take a look at the object to be moved. If it appears to be too heavy or cumbersome, find help!
  • Consider where the object is going. Are there obstacles along the way? If so, move them out of the pathway.
  • Depending on the shape of the object, try to hold it at the side and bottom while keeping it close to the body. Remember to keep the back straight. Carry the object with the elbows slightly bent.  An extra tip...Carry a balanced amount of weight in each hand. For example, when carrying shopping bags or luggage, split the load in two.
  • The shoulders should be held slightly back and level.
  • Each ear should line up with the shoulders.
  • The chin is slightly tucked and the pelvis is shifted forward so the hips are aligned with the ankles.

Spine Safety:  Lifting

  • First take a look at the object to be moved. If it appears to be too heavy or cumbersome, find help!
  • If there are obstacles in the way, move them before lifting the object.
  • Maintain good posture and keep the head properly aligned. Try to get as close to the object as possible and bend at the knees.

Spine Safety:  Reaching

  • Consider the size, weight, and location of the object. Use a sturdy stool or ladder if necessary. Don't even think about standing on tiptoe!
  • Next, directly face the object and get as close to it as possible. One hand could be used for additional support. Try not to look overhead for prolonged periods of time. This could cause unnecessary stress to the neck.  An extra tip...Store items that are used often within easy reach. This may mean rearranging shelves and/or closets.
  • Don't lift yet! Make sure the feet are slightly apart and flat on the floor. To turn, instead of twisting the body, pivot with the feet. This will help to provide a stable base of support.
  • Keep breathing and tighten the stomach muscles. Smoothly lift the object using the arms and legs...not the back!

And remember:  Poor posture and incorrect body mechanics are two of the leading causes of neck and back pain.

Updated on: 09/08/15
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Common and Uncommon Causes of Back Pain
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Common and Uncommon Causes of Back Pain

Muscle spasms may be the most common cause of back pain, but there are other common causes patients with back pain need to know about. Plus, two uncommon spinal disorder are explained.
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