Ten Tips for a Healthy Back

Follow these simple guidelines to keep your back in good shape


Keeping one foot forward of the other, with knees slightly bent, takes the pressure off your lower back.

2. Sitting

Sitting with your knees slightly higher than your hips provides good low back support.

3. Reaching

Stand on a stool to reach things that are above your shoulder level.

4. Moving Heavy Items

Pushing is easier on your back than pulling.  Use your arms and legs to start the push.  If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.

5. Lifting

Kneel down on one knee with the other, foot flat on the floor, as near as possible to the item you are lifting.  Lift with your legs, not your back, keeping the object close to your body at all times.

6. Carrying

Two small objects (one in either hand) may be easier to handle than one large one.  If you must carry one large object, keep it close to your body.

7. Sleeping

Sleeping on your back puts 55 lbs. of pressure on your back.  Putting a couple of pillows under your knees cuts the pressure in half.  Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees also reduces the pressure.

8. Weight Control

Additional weight puts a strain on your back.  Keep within 10 lbs. of your ideal weight for a healthier back

9. Quit Smoking

Smokers are more prone to back pain than nonsmokers because nicotine restricts the flow of blood to the disks that cushion your vertebrae.

10. Minor Back Pain

Treat Minor back pain with anti-inflammatories and gentle stretching, followed by an ice pack.

Seven Back Pain Warning Signs

If you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions, you should consult a spine specialist.

1. Has your low back pain extended down your leg?

If the pain persists and is severe, it is a sign that something is compressing a nerve running from your back to your leg

2. Does your leg pain increase if you lift your knee to your chest or bend over

If so, there is a good chance a disc is irritating a nerve

3. Have you had severe back pain following a recent fall?

A fall may cause damage to your spine.  Chances of injury increase if you have osteoporosis.

4. Have you had significant back pain lasting for more than 3 weeks?

Often, pain will go away with basic treatment.  However, if your pain persists you should consult a spine doctor.

5. Have you had back pain that becomes worse when you rest, or wakes you up at night?

If this is accompanied by a fever, it may be a sign that there is an infection or other problem.

6. Do you have persistent bladder of bowel problems?

Bladder and bowel problems may be due to many causes, but some spine problems may cause these symptoms.

7. Do you get numbness or weakness in your legs while walking?

These problems can be caused by a narrowing of the spinal canal.  This is called spinal stenosis.