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Neck and back care

posted Dec 29, 2012, 1:26 AM by Soneet Aggarwal   [ updated Feb 12, 2013, 1:42 AM ]
Many adults complain of back and neck problems. In some cases back and neck pain result from preventable
injuries. Fortunately, the following strategies can reduce your risk or help ease the pain if 
you've already got a problem.

For the Back

Get in shape. Being overweight and out of shape are a dangerous combination due to the stress and pressure they place on the spine. Getting in shape by doing aerobic conditioning on a treadmill, stair machine or elliptical trainer accomplishes two things: It strengthens the trunk muscles so they can support the spine and it burns calories, which can lead to weight loss.

Lift properly. If you have to lift something heavy, make sure you:
  • Stand close to the object
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Bend at the knees and tighten your stomach muscles
  • Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up
  • Don’t twist your spine—pivot your feet to change directions
  • Do these steps in reverse as you put the object down.
Adjust your workstation. Start by adjusting your chair to support your back. To do so, adjust the lumbar support to fit your low back’s inward curve. Adjust the height so your feet can rest flat on the floor. Place your computer monitor and keyboard directly in front of you.

Keep moving. Avoid sitting in one position for hours at a time. Make it a point to take a break every hour and get out of your chair to walk. Doing so will stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back.

If you experience lower back pain despite your best efforts, experts suggest several self-care strategies:
  • Apply a heat wrap around your lower torso — one study found thermal wraps to be more effective at relieving back pain than acetaminophen or ibuprofen
  • Avoid prolonged bed rest, which may delay your recovery. Instead, get back to your normal activities and exercise as soon as possible
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Try not to bend over first thing in the morning, when the risk of injury to your spinal discs is highest
For the Neck

Got a pain in the neck? You aren't alone. Neck pain is extremely common and can be caused by a wide range of factors. These include bad posture, your sleeping position, improper lifting, arthritis, degeneration of the neck’s cervical disks, and injuries. Rarely, a tumour or infection is to blame. Fortunately, these simple steps can prevent many cases of neck pain:
  • Balance your load. Substitute a backpack for a heavy purse. The key is to wear it with both arms through the shoulder straps.
  • Change positions frequently while sitting down. If you must sit in the same position for long periods of time, maintain good posture. Make sure your hips are a little higher than your knees, keep your back supported and don’t hunch your neck forward. If you’re travelling by train, air plane  or car, a rolled-up towel or small pillow placed between your neck and the headrest can keep your neck in a healthy position.
  • Don’t cradle the telephone between your neck and shoulder. Instead, attach a neck cradle to your telephone or use a speaker phone or headset.
  • Lift properly. Bend with your knees, keep your head and shoulders up and hold the object you’re lifting close to your body.
  • Sleep on your side or back instead of on your stomach. And be sure to use a pillow that’s neither too firm nor too soft. Your pillow should keep your spine straight and your neck in a neutral position — not bent forward, backward or to one side.