We see a lot of patients this time of year who suffer with low back pain.
During the holidays people often engage in various strenuous activities
that cause undue stress on the spine. Although there are several potentially
traumatic postures or movements that can increase stress on the lower back,
we’re going to discuss three of the more stressful positions, activities or movements to avoid.
Lifting lightweight objects improperly:
When you lift smaller, lightweight objects, it may be of equal risk for your lower back compared to lifting an object of more substantial weight. This is because you may forget to consider proper posture when lifting lightweight objects. In other words you may use proper body mechanics when lifting a large television or box of Christmas decorations packed away in storage, but then fail to implement good postural habits when picking up a pen or small toys from the floor. Holiday preparation is often associated with overuse injuries to the lower back due to lifting many smaller, lightweight objects versus one large, heavy item. No job is too
small to forget about good posture and body mechanics.
Twisting while bending forward:
Bending forward to lift an object or perform a daily task is stressful enough on your lower back, however when you add a twisting motion while bending over it places a much greater amount of stress on the vertebral discs in lumbar spine. Patients will periodically aggravate an existing back problem when they twist and reach over to one side while standing up from a bent position. It is safest and most bio mechanically correct to first stand up completely, then turn your feet along with your body versus twisting at the lower back. You may be inclined to this twisting motion when performing certain activities, such as removing baked goods from the oven and placing them onto a side counter, or when picking up a laundry basket from the floor and twisting to place it on the washer. It may take you an extra second or two to move your feet versus twisting
your lumbar spine, but it will be well worth the effort in the long run.
Bending forward slightly for prolonged periods:
You may already be aware of the potential risks of bending over completely to lift something, but you may not have considered that holding a sustained posture in a slightly bent forward position is equally or even more stressful to your lower back. When you bend forward slightly, such as while washing dishes or brushing your teeth, significant pressure builds up in the lumbar spine. This can cause great stress to the vertebral discs, facet joints and spinal nerves. A viable solution to reduce spinal stress when having to bend forward slightly is to prop your knees against something, such as a kitchen cabinet or vanity. Propping your knees will help to more evenly distribute the stress of leaning forward, thus reducing the strain on your lower spine.