Back Care

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Eight of 10 Americans will suffer a back injury sometime during their lives. Chances are, you can beat those odds - if you take steps to strengthen and protect your back. The best time to start is now.
Back problems often begin long before the pain shows up. An aching or injured back is usually the result of a history of back abuse - including poor posture, improper lifting techniques, tension, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise.
Taking steps to protect your back is your best insurance against back pain or injury. You are the only one who can do it, and now is the time.

Watch those curves!

Cervical spine. These seven bones, or vertebrae, make it possible for you to move your head and neck through a wide range fo motions. In "medical language," these bones are referred to as C1 through C7.
Thoracic spine. Also called the dorsal spine, the thoracic curve consists of 12 vertebrae (T1 through T12), which provide support for the ribs.
Lumbar spine. Five large vertebrae (L1 through L5) make up the lumbar curve, or lower back section, which carries most of the body's weight. At the base of the spine are two more bones: the sacrum, which is connected to the lumbar region and pelvis, and the coccyx, or "tailbone."
The spine consists of 24 discs and vertebrae, supported by muscles and ligaments. Each of these "parts" has an important job to do. The bones, or vertebrae, protect the spinal cord. The discs act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. And the muscles and ligaments, working together with the discs, allow the spinal cord to stretch, curve and bend - while holding all the bones in place. The normal spine is shapede like a long, drawn-ouit "S", formed by three natural curves of the back, known as the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spines.

The safe lift

Learning how to lift properly is one of the most important moves you can make towared maintaining a healthy back. The first step toward proper lifting begins in your head. Think about how you will lift an object before attempting it. If the load is too heavy, break it into sections, if possible. If not, enlist the help of others in lifting the object or transferring it to a pushcart, handtruck, or forklift. And, when using a cart or handtruck, push - don't pull.

If you decide to lift the load yourself, remember to...
When unloading, use the lifting techniques in reverse. Set the load down smoothly, in a carefully chosen spot (so no one has to move it again!)

Daily care of your back

Remember, a back problem is rarely caused by a single incident. It's usually the result of a combination of stress, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, improper lifting, poor posture ...and one "wrong" move. The better you treat your back, every day, the better it will treat you.

Here are a few general guidelines for proper nutrition:

Mind your posture! Whether you're sleeping, sitting, standing or driving, there's a right way to do it.

More tips on back care...