Please be aware that some programs and video content are temporarily unavailable, as the CEMM transitions to a new website. This content will be available soon but if you have any questions or concerns please contact us here



Lt Col Jerman
Along with regular exercise and eating properly, there are a variety of ergonomic approaches relating to body position that can help prevent low back pain. Dr. Patel, can you offer some advice on these prevention strategies?

Dr. Patel
Of course, Dr. Jerman. It’s always important to use good posture, support your back properly, and avoid heavy lifting with improper technique. When you lift something, keep the object close to your body, or if the object is on the floor, stand with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, and bend only at the hips and knees. Keep your back in the normal, arched position. Never lift by bending forward and using your lower back, and never twist while you’re lifting. Inhale before you lift, and breathe out as you exert yourself during the lift. Tighten your stomach muscles and begin the upward lift using your legs.

It’s also important not to stay in one position for too long. If you’re sitting, pick a chair and a position that’s comfortable, and try to maintain good posture. Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle, and keep both feet on the floor or on a footrest. Try some support, like a rolled up towel in the small of your back, and keep your ears, shoulders, and hips perpendicular to the floor. Bend your elbows at about 90 degrees, and keep your wrists parallel to the floor. Let your arms rest on the soft armrests of the chair, which will help relieve some of the pressure on your lower back. Finally, get up and stretch regularly so that you don’t get stiff.

When you’re driving, adjust your seat from time to time so that your back doesn’t stiffen up. Take a break periodically to walk around and stretch. When you’re getting into the car, use the door to help you sit, and then grasp the steering wheel for support as you slowly swing both legs into the car. When you’re exiting the vehicle, use the steering wheel as leverage to help pivot your lower body out of the car.

Another tip for preventing low back pain involves being aware of how you carry things. Make sure that your backpack, briefcase, or purse is not too heavy. Carry only what you really need. When you’re shopping and need to carry packages, be sure to hold them close to your body, or to distribute the weight evenly by using both hands.

When you sleep, try lying in a curled-up, fetal position with a pillow between your legs. If you usually sleep on your back, place a pillow or a rolled towel under your knees to relieve pressure. As you get out of bed, roll onto your side and push your body up with your arms. Bend your knees and lower your feet to the floor. Use your legs to lift your entire body.