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Keep Your Eyes on Your Back

October 04, 1999|BARBARA J. CHUCK

If you turn your back on back safety, you could pay for it later. Heeding a few rules can offer protection and good back health.

When getting out of bed, roll over onto one side first: Keep your knees together, flatten your abdominal muscles to keep your back from arching, and place your hands on the bed in front of you.

Next, raise your body: Push your upper body off the bed, swinging your legs to the floor. Remember to move your body as a unit and keep your back straight. The weight of your legs will help you move.

Finally, stand up: Lean forward from the hip and roll onto the balls of your feet. Push yourself up using your arm and leg muscles (don't forget to keep your back from arching). Once you get out of bed, take a moment before walking to make sure you're not woozy.

And who knew there would be recommendations on how to sleep safely? There are.

* Find out from your health-care provider how firm a mattress you should use.

* Sleep in a position that keeps your back aligned and comfortable. Use pillows to fill the gaps between your body and the mattress.

* If your favorite sleeping position is on your back, put pillows under your legs, from the thighs to the ankles, to avoid back strain.

* Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

What about protecting your back in other situations? When bending over, such as when you're using the bathroom basin, bend at your hips and knees, not at the waist, and try not to round your back. Rest your weight on your arms if it's possible.

If you need to stand for a period of time, such as when ironing or doing the dishes, try putting one foot on a footrest to ease the strain on your back. A footrest that is 5 to 8 inches high often works best.

Source: StayWell Co.

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