How to Sit, Stand, and Move to Keep Your Back Safe
HEALTH INSIGHTS

How to Sit, Stand, and Move to Keep Your Back Safe

March 21, 2017

How to Sit, Stand, and Move to Keep Your Back Safe

Low back pain is a common experience, but it doesn't have to be.

Up to eight in 10 Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. For most people, back pain resolves, but for 5 to 10 percent, low back pain becomes a chronic condition. The key to avoiding back pain is to prevent it. Staying in good physical condition with back strengthening exercises as part of your routine may help. Learning how to lift correctly and maintaining good posture also will be helpful. The way you do normal, everyday activities could determine whether you aggravate your back or keep it pain-free.

Try these suggestions to help you avoid back injuries.

Sitting

  • Sit with your back straight. Make sure your chair supports your lower back, or use a lumbar support or pillow. Keep your knees even with your hips. To do this, you may need to adjust your chair height or use a footstool.

  • Don't slouch over your desk or lean your head forward. Slouching requires greater muscular effort and creates more tension in your back.

  • To do close work, move your chair in. Get up every hour or so and stretch, fidget when you are sitting.

Standing

  • If you stand for long periods, try to elevate one foot or shift your weight often.

  • Women should avoid wearing high heels; instead, they should wear low-heeled shoes with good cushioning and arch support.

Lifting

  • Bend from the knees, not the waist, and use your legs, not your back, for support.

  • Carry loads as close to your body as possible.

  • Don't lift and twist at the same time.

Sleeping

  • Sleep on a firm mattress that provides good support.

  • Place a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back or between your knees if you sleep on your side.

  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which places your back in an unnatural posture.

  • Place a pillow under your abdomen if you do sleep on your stomach.

Driving

  • Move the car seat forward enough so your knees and hips are at the same level and you don't have to stretch your legs to reach the pedals.

  • Sit in an upright position; don't recline the back of your seat.

  • On long drives, take frequent rest stops so you can get out and stretch.

Exercising

  • Warm up before starting an activity. Warm muscles are less prone to injury.

  • Start your exercise program slowly and increase your level gradually.

  • Avoid unsupported bending. If you lean forward at the waist, bend your knees slightly and tighten your stomach muscles to help support your back.

  • Cool down after exercise.

  • Stop exercising if you feel back pain.

Updated:  

March 21, 2017

Reviewed By:  

Bhattacharyya, Tim MD,Sylvia ByrdSylvia Byrd RN MBA