Don’t get bent out of shape

February 25, 2011

Did you know 80 percent of American adults will experience back problems in their lifetime? Fortunately, by making just a few adjustments to everyday activities, you can reduce your risk.

“If you want to eliminate lifting, lowering and carrying injuries, you must stop lifting, lowering and carrying and replace with pushing, pulling and sliding within the power zone,” says Jerome Congleton, Ph.D., professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.

The “power zone” is between your knees and shoulders while standing or slightly stooped. Therefore, don’t put heavy stuff on the floor or above the shoulder.

It is easier to push than pull, and the best height to push is at the height of your belly button, according to Dr. Congleton. Use the much larger leg muscles as opposed to the smaller low back muscles. He also recommends those who are going to engage in physical activities at work, play or home to do warm-up exercises before beginning those activities.

“All athletes warm-up first and then stretch before they practice or lift weights, and those who are going to do physical activities should as well,” Dr. Congleton says. “The muscle, tendon and ligaments should be warm and full of blood and water, making them less likely to be injured. You can stretch as many times during the day or shift as you feel necessary.”

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