5 Spine Survival Tips for Labor Day

The Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah for all kinds of summer fun. Most people enjoy the extended weekend away from work worries with gusto and sometimes a disregard for spine safety! An encounter with neck and back pain is the farthest thing from anyone's mind. However, doctors report dramatic increases in neck and back injuries, including spinal cord injury during the Labor Day holiday. For some folks, their final holiday vacation destination is urgent care or the emergency room!

accident and emergency department doorway at hospitalPlay it safe this Labor Day to help avoid a neck or back injury and subsequent urgent care or emergency room visit.

Accidents and hundreds of other things cause neck and back pain. The idea is to learn how to help prevent spine pain first! While planning Labor Day fun, take a few minutes to consider how you can plan to be safe and help prevent back pain.

Tip #1: Don't Fall Victim to Weekend Warrior Syndrome

Do you view Labor Day as a golden opportunity to catch up on lingering home projects? Cleaning out the garage, testing that new extension ladder while washing windows, or trimming hedges can be a recipe for neck and back pain! This is especially true if physical labor is not an everyday activity or, you are overweight and out of shape. Consider these accident and injury prevention tips:

  • Review your current medical situation. Can any of the medications you take cause dizziness, drowsiness or confusion?
  • Commit some time to a pretask warm-up and stretch. Simple exercise can help improve spinal musculature flexibility and joint range of motion.
  • Don't rush! Take it easy and take frequent breaks.
  • Minimize bending and twisting. These movements place force on the back's facet joints and discs and contribute to neck and back pain.

Tip #2: Be "Spine Aware" to Lift and Carry Safely

Many people travel during the Labor Day holiday weekend. That can mean lifting and toting overstuffed luggage, odd-shaped items, tent setups, grills and coolers, and other items not regularly handled. A few back-saving tips:

  • Test the weight of the object to be lifted. An easy way to decide if you can lift it without help is to try pushing the object with your foot. However, even lightweight objects that are large, or cumbersome, may best be handled with help.
  • Decide what you will do with the object after lifting it. If moving the object to another location, clear obstacles out-of-the-way. Plan the best way to hold or grip the object to keep it close to your body before lifting.
  • Position your body close to, and directly facing, the object. Place your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, to provide a stable base for your body. To turn directions use your feet to pivot. Do not twist!
  • Depending on the shape of the object, try to hold it at the sides and bottom, and close to your body. If possible, keep your elbows bent while carrying an object.
  • Use the muscles in your legs as the power for lifting not the back! Bend the knees, keep the back straight, and lift smoothly. Repeat the same movements for setting the object down.

Tip #3: Don't Let Safety Take a Dive!

Diving accidents are one of the most common causes of spinal cord injury! Here are simple tips everyone needs to know:

  • How deep is the water? Never dive into water fewer than 9 feet deep. Check the pool's depth-marker.
  • Never "penguin" dive into the water (ie, head first with arms at sides).
  • Remember the buddy system and don't swim alone. Make sure someone is watching.
  • Obey all pool rules.
  • Don't run in pool areas to avoid a slip and fall or causing injury to someone else.
  • Make sure flotation devices are Coast Guard approved. Although some toys are made for pool use, not all can save a life.

diving warningDiving head first into shallow water can result in a serious neck injury. Heed the warning signs that may be posted near beaches, lakes and pools.

Tip #4: Bicycle Safety Tips

Biking is a hugely popular activity for people of all ages everywhere! Unfortunately, the thrill of the ride is sometimes ruined by falling. Bicycle-related accidents are a common cause of head and spine injury. Take bike riding seriously by considering these safety tips:

  • Keep an eye on regular bike maintenance. For example, check brake function and tire condition.
  • Adjust the seat height and pedals to fit your body.
  • Never ride without a helmet and protective gear.
  • Watch out for potholes, shards of glass, trash, and other obstacles that can cause a tumble.
  • Give moving and parked cars a wide berth. A door that suddenly opens can knock you off your bike.
  • When cycling in traffic, be aware of what is around you. Drivers who cannot see you in their mirrors (blind spot) potentially can be dangerous.

Tip #5: Common Sense Rules to the Road

Holiday weekends mean busy roadways, hot tempers, cell phone distractions, hungry antsy children, and unfortunately, drunk drivers. You may not be able to avoid an accident, but there are steps you can take to keep everyone in your car safer.

  • Keep up regular car maintenance. Check tire pressure and wear more often.
  • If necessary, preassign a designated driver. Never combine alcohol and drugs with driving.
  • Buckle up before moving! That means wearing shoulder and laps belts.
  • Properly restrain infants, toddlers and children in approved safety seats. Make sure the safety seat is installed correctly in the backseat.
  • Arrive alive! Don't speed and follow the rules of the road.

Enjoy Labor Day!

Whether you stay at home or travel hundreds of miles to reach Labor Day weekend fun, safety should never take a back seat! Keep these neck and back pain prevention tips in mind as you enjoy summer's final days.

Updated on: 08/27/18
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