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Good Health Magazine : MEDICINE : THE DO'S AND THE DON'TS

April 28, 1991|ANNE C. ROARK

Understanding a specific set of back problems and figuring out how to compensate for them might require professional help, but there is a generally agreed upon list of do's and don'ts that might help, says Dr. August A. White III, in his book, "Your Aching Back: A Doctor's Guide to Relief."

White's recommendations:

Do learn how and what to sit on. Everyone needs a chair with proper support, preferably with arms, that maintains the natural curves of the spine. To get in and out of a seat, scoot to the edge and use your legs; don't use your back to lift your body up.

Do learn the art of getting out of bed safely. Roll over onto your side and use your arms and legs, not your back, to pull yourself up.

Do take precautions while doing chores. When ironing or washing dishes, put one foot on a stool or the base of a cabinet to relieve pressure on the spine. Kneel, don't bend, when making a bed. Bend at the knees, not the waist, when gardening or picking up objects.

Do use a collapsible luggage carrier to haul groceries, briefcases and suitcases. And ask for help when you need it.

Do exercise, especially with movements that will strengthen your abdominal and leg muscles. Low-impact exercise, such as walking at a fast pace, is ideal, as is swimming, although most back patients should avoid the butterfly and breast stroke.

Don't exercise without warming up. First stretch, run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. Vigorous back activities should be avoided first thing in the morning because it is at that time that discs are most filled with fluid and especially prone to injury.

Don't do exercises that involve twisting and turning.

Don't jog on hard surfaces if you lack good jogging shoes.

Don't sit, or do anything else, for extended periods.

Don't hold packages or babies or anything else away from your body with your arms extended..

Don't carry your wallet in a back pocket; the bulk of a wallet can press on the sciatic nerve when you sit or drive.

Don't work standing on a hard surface, but if you can't avoid doing so, invest in shoes with thick-crepe or soft-rubber soles.

Don't give up. Correcting a back problem takes time.

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