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What a Pain in the Back!



  • Back pain is one of the most common & disabling of injuries?

  • A large percentage of the population complains of recurring back pain (this increases with age!).

  • More males than females get back injuries

  • Back pain is a common risk in these types of occupations: truckers, firefighters, health care workers (paramedics, nurses, aides), and labourers.

  • Back pain is commonly caused or made worse by poor posture, overweight/obesity, repetitive sprains & strains, muscle imbalances, poor flexibility, decreased strength, sedentary lifestyle, bad mattresses, fatigue, and stress (just to name a few!).

With so many causes of back pain we need to look at ways we can reduce our risk of injury, strain, or reccurent pain. Since we spend the majority of our time either sitting, standing, or sleeping it would make sense to look at how we can prevent back injury in these common positions. Let's look at sitting first:


  • Avoid long periods of sitting

  • Avoid sitting forward on chair w/ back arched

  • Keep back slightly rounded or firmly against chair

  • Keep feet flat on floor with knees level with hips

  • Avoid sitting with legs straight & raised on stool

  • Try a back/lumbar support in your chair and/or vehicle


  • Avoid long periods of standing (alternate with sitting)

  • Frequently shift weight from one foot to another

  • Stand tall, engage abdominals, and relax your knees

  • Avoid arching back

  • Work on maintaining or increasing lower abdominal strength and hip flexibility (hamstrings & hip flexors)


  • A firm mattress is a better option than a soft mattress

  • Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach (especially with your arms raised above your head)

  • If you are a back sleeper put a pillow under your knees

  • The ideal position? 'Fetal' position (try with pillow b/t knees or body pillow)

  • Try not to sleep in one position too long

What about prevention of injury when we are moving around? We talked about the common occupations at higher risk of injury & recurrent back pain. Those occupations require a lot of moving, twisting, lifting, & carrying. To further protect our back from injury we need to be aware of proper lifting & carrying techniques.