Prevent Poor Posture
WHAT CAUSES POOR POSTURE?
Our occupation and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles can lead to back pain because of poor posture.
If it continues it can lead to longer term problems later in life, so it’s beneficial to know what good posture looks like.
Here’s an easy guide, to help you… Mind Your Back
Guide to Good Posture
Your ear, shoulder, hip and ankle should be in a line.
How can I improve my posture when standing?
- Stand up straight and tall
- Keep your shoulders back
- Pull your stomach in
- Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet
- Keep your head level
- Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart
- Take some time to determine your plan for lifting and do not rush.
- Position yourself close to the object you want to lift.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to give yourself a solid base of support.
- Bend at the knees.
- Tighten your stomach muscles.
- Lift with your leg muscles as you stand up.
- If an object is too heavy or is an awkward shape, do not try to lift it by yourself. Get help.
Picking Up a Light Object
To lift a very light object from the floor, such as a piece of paper, lean over the object, slightly bend one knee and extend the other leg behind you.
Hold on to a nearby chair or table for support as you reach down to grab the object.
Picking Up a Heavy Object
Whether you are lifting a heavy laundry basket or a heavy box in your garage, remember to get close to the object, bend at the knees, and lift with your leg muscles.
Do not bend at your waist.
When lifting luggage, stand alongside the luggage, bend at your knees, grasp the handle and straighten up.
Holding an Object
While you are holding the object, keep your knees slightly bent to maintain your balance.
If you have to move the object to one side, avoid twisting your body.
Point your toes in the direction you want to move and pivot in that direction. Keep the object close to you when moving.
Placing an Object on a Shelf
If you need to place an object on a shelf, move as close as possible to the shelf. Spread your feet in a wide stance, positioning one foot in front of the other to give you a solid base of support. Do not lean forward and do not fully extend your arms while holding the object in your hands.
If the shelf is chest high, move close to the shelf and place your feet apart and one foot forward. Lift the object chest high, keep your elbows at your side and position your hands so you can push the object up and on to the shelf. Remember to tighten your stomach muscles before lifting.
Your spine should be straight when lying on your side.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.
- If you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your knees.
- Your bed should allow you to have a straight spine if lying on your side – soft enough to accommodate the curves of your shoulder and hip.
Lifting Techniques for Home Caregivers
Some general guidelines to follow when you lift or move a person include:
- Keep your head and neck in proper alignment with your spine; your head, neck, and back should be as straight as possible.
- Maintain the natural curve of your spine; bend with your hips and knees, rather than from your back.
- Avoid twisting your body when carrying a person.
- Always keep the person who is being moved close to your body.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart to maintain your balance.
- Use the muscles in your legs to lift and/or pull.
If the person is uncooperative, too heavy, or in an awkward position, get help.
Sitting Up in Bed
To move a person who is lying in bed to a wheelchair, put the chair close to the bed and lock the wheels.
If the person is not strong enough to push up with his or her hands to a sitting position, place one of your arms under the person’s legs and your other arm under his or her back.
Move the person’s legs over the edge of the bed while pivoting his or her body so that the person ends up sitting on the edge of the bed.
Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees bent, and your back in a natural straight position.
If the person needs assistance getting into the wheelchair, position the person’s feet on the floor and slightly apart. Face the person and place his or her hands on the bed or on your shoulders.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart with your knees bent. Place your arms around the person’s back and clasp your hands together. Hold the person close to you, lean back, and shift your weight.
Nurses, physical therapists, and others in hospitals often use lifting belts fastened around a person’s waist to help with these types of movements.. The caregiver then grasps the belt when lifting the patient.
Pivot toward the wheelchair, bend your knees, and lower the person into the chair.
Make sure the person has both hands on the arms of the chair before you lower him or her down.
Backpacks are a popular and practical way for children and teenagers to carry schoolbooks and supplies. They are designed to distribute the weight of the load among some of the body’s strongest muscles. When used correctly, backpacks can be a good way to carry the necessities of the school day.
Tips for Proper Use of Backpacks
Backpacks that are too heavy or are worn incorrectly can cause problems for children and teenagers. Improperly used backpacks may injure muscles and joints. This can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as posture problems.
Although they are linked to posture problems, heavy backpacks do not cause scoliosis. Scoliosis is a sideways curve of the spine that often shows up in children during adolescence.
To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:
- Always use both shoulder straps when carrying the backpack. The correct use of both of the wide, well-padded shoulder straps will help distribute the weight of the backpack across the back.
- Tighten the straps to keep the load closer to the back.
- Organize the items inside so that heavier items are low and towards the center of the backpack.
- Pack light, removing items if the backpack is too heavy. Carry only those items that are required for the day and, if possible, leave unnecessary books at home or school.
- Lift properly by bending at the knees when picking up a backpack.
- Consider using a crossbody bag as a good alternative for carrying books and supplies.
Tips for Parents
Parents can help ensure their child’s safety by doing the following:
- Encourage your child or teenager to tell you about any numbness, tingling, or discomfort in the arms or legs. These symptoms may indicate poor backpack fit or too much weight being carried.
- Watch your child put on and take off the backpack to see if it is a struggle. If the backpack seems too heavy, have your child remove some of the books and carry them in his or her arms to ease the load on the back.
- Do not ignore any back pain in a child or teenager.
- Talk to the school about lightening the load. Team up with other parents to encourage changes.
- Encourage your child to stop at his or her locker when time permits throughout the day to drop off or exchange heavier books.
- If your child has back pain that does not improve, consider buying a second set of textbooks to keep at home.
Correct your posture
Good posture is about more than standing up straight so you can look your best. It is an important part of your long-term health. Making sure that you hold your body the right way, whether you are moving or still, can prevent pain, injuries, and other health problems.
What is posture?
Posture is how you hold your body. There are two types:
- Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
- Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, like when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
It is important to make sure that you have good dynamic and static posture.
The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three natural curves – at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the top of your shoulder should be over the hips.
How can posture affect my health?
Poor posture can be bad for your health. Slouching or slumping over can
- Misalign your musculoskeletal system
- Wear away at your spine, making it more fragile and prone to injury
- Cause neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Decrease your flexibility
- Affect how well your joints move
- Affect your balance and increase your risk of falling
- Make it harder to digest your food
- Make it harder to breathe
How can I improve my posture in general?
- Be mindful of your posture during everyday activities, like watching television, washing dishes, or walking
- Stay active. Any kind of exercise may help improve your posture, but certain types of exercises can be especially helpful. They include yoga, tai chi, and other classes that focuses on body awareness. It is also a good idea to do exercises that strengthen your core (muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis).
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, cause problems for your pelvis and spine, and contribute to low back pain. All of these can hurt your posture.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. High heels, for example, can throw off your balance and force you to walk differently. This puts more stress on your muscles and harms your posture.
- Make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height for you, whether you’re sitting in front of a computer, making dinner, or eating a meal.
Ladder Safety Guide
Ladders are useful tools. Nearly everyone uses them to reach out-of-the-way objects on pantry shelves or closets, wash windows, clean gutters, or hang holiday lights. Ladders also are potentially dangerous. In 2018, more than 580,000 ladder-related injuries required medical treatment according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most common injuries are cuts, bruises and fractured bones. However, some injuries are more severe.
Fortunately, many of these injuries can be avoided by following the ladder safety guidelines shown below.
Choose the Correct Ladder
- Use a ladder of proper length to reach the working height that you need. Inside a home, that probably means a low stepladder. For outside chores, you may need a taller stepladder and, for some projects, an even taller single or extension ladder. Keep in mind that, on a stepladder, the highest standing level should be two steps down from the top. On a single or extension ladder, never stand above the third rung from the top.
- Use a ladder according to use and “working load” — the amount of weight the ladder can hold, including yourself and any tools or decorations.
Inspect the Ladder Before Using It
- Never use a ladder that is damaged, broken or bent.
- Check the ladder for any loose screws, hinges or rungs.
- Clean off any mud, grease, oil, snow or other slippery liquids that might have accumulated on the ladder.
- Do not make a temporary repair of broken or missing parts because these repairs could fail while you are high off the ground.
Proper Set Up of the Ladder
- Be sure the ladder is set up on stable, even ground. Outside ground can become bumpy after cycles of freezing and thawing over the winter months or may be soft or muddy throughout the year.
- If working outside, make sure the ladder is away from electrical wires, tree limbs, or any other obstructions.
- Use the 4-to-1 rule: Make sure the ladder is 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet that the ladder rises. For example, if the ladder touches the wall 16 feet above the ground, the feet/base of the ladder should be 4 feet from the wall. If you are going to climb onto a roof, the ladder should extend 3 feet higher than the roof. The upper and lower sections of an extension ladder should overlap to provide stability.
- Whether inside or outside the home, do not place stepladders or utility ladders on boxes, countertops or unstable surfaces to gain additional height.
- Before using a stepladder, make sure it is fully open and that the spreaders or braces between the two sections are fully extended and locked.
- The highest standing level on a stepladder should be two steps down from the top.
- Ladder height versus work height:
Tips For Safe Ladder Use
- Take time to secure the ladder properly.
- Make sure the soles of your shoes are clean so they do not slip off the ladder rungs. Do not wear leather-soled shoes because they can be slippery.
- Always wear lace-up shoes or boots, rather than sandals or flip-flops. Make sure your shoelaces are securely tied and that your pant legs do not extend under your shoes.
- Face the ladder while climbing, and stay in the center of the rails. Grip both rails securely while climbing.
- It is always better to move the ladder than to overreach.
- Leaning too far to one side, and reaching too far overhead, can make you lose your balance and fall. Your bellybutton should not go beyond the sides of the ladder.
- Never climb a ladder without someone nearby to spot you.
- On a single or extension ladder, never stand above the third rung from the top and never climb above the point where the ladder touches the wall or vertical support.
- On stepladders, never stand on the pail shelf, spreaders or back section.
- Do not stand above the marked level; never stand on the top rung of any ladder.
- Do not overload the ladder. It is meant to be used by one person at a time.
- Do not use a ladder if you tire easily, are subject to fainting spells, or are taking medications or consuming alcohol that may make you dizzy or drowsy.
- Do not use the ladder or the pail shelf as a seat.
- Never use a ladder in high winds.
If you fall from a ladder:
- Calmly assess the situation and determine if you are hurt.
- Get up slowly.
- If you feel that an injury has occurred that prevents you from standing or walking, do not panic. Call for assistance. If the injury is serious, call 911.
- If you are not injured, rest awhile and regain your composure before climbing again.
Ladders are useful tools that regularly help with a variety of chores and projects. Ensuring that your ladder is safe, and that you are properly climbing and moving on the ladder, can help prevent injuries.
10 Tips for a Healthy Back
Follow these simple guidelines to keep your back in good shape:
- Customize your work station to your body and tasks
- Change positions frequently
- Move efficiently and control stress
- Exercise at least 30 mins, 3 times a week
- Take rest breaks every hour: recline in your chair for a moment or walk around for a few minutes
- Change your position. If seated, stand up; if standing, walk around
- Perform a different task every hour or so & use different muscles to relieve back
- Feet should touch the floor or be supported
- Keep knees & hips level
- Sit up to keep spine straight
- Look straight without neck strain
- Adjust your chair’s lumbar and armrests
- Keep monitor at arms’ length
- Position monitor & document holders even or slightly below line of sight
- Sit up when texting or reading
- Keep device at chest or eye level to decrease neck and back stress
- Use a hands-free device instead of holder to your ear
- Estimate the weight to be lifted and ensure a clear path to move object
- Keep a wide stance and bend from the legs (not from the waist)
- Keep the load as close as possible to your body Avoid bending from your back
- Do not twist, rather pivot from hips and feet for less back stress
- Adjust the seat height and distance so knees are slightly bent and back supported by the seat back
- Recline your seat slightly to decrease back strain if needed
- Use lumbar support to support the natural curve in your low back (cushions or rolled towels work too!)
- Raise back of seat so you’re sitting on a flat surface
- Take frequent breaks in long drives: take a short walk and stretch
- Use your whole body by bending hips, knees and ankles, keeping child close, when lifting them (Don’t twist & lift)
- Try carrying baby face-out from the middle of your body
- If carring baby on side, alternate the sides frequently. Keep the thumb close to the other fingers to avoid ligaments/tendons stress
- Keep baby carrier above hips
- Adjust handle of stroller to belly button level, and push with relaxed, slightly bent elbows
- Use a pillow or arm rest to support the baby during feeding
- When on the floor, sit with your back supported or kneel
- Mopping: Stand upright, keep elbows close to the body, and move with it like a dance partner, avoiding torso twisting
- Vacuuming: Stand upright and move with the vacuum
- Bathroom: Use a small stool to sit or kneel in comfort while cleaning the lower fixtures
- General: If bending for a task, arch back, take breaks, and change postures frequently
- Standing at sink or counter: Use a wide stance and lean your stomach on the counter edge to lower your body and prevent leaning forward, wear comfortable shoes or stand on rubber mat and be mindful of posture, keeping your head up
- Walking at a brisk pace is beneficial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and often helps back pain
- Maintain upright posture to avoid slumping or leaning forward while walking
- Use a pedometer to track progress and stay motivated
- Choose a dynamic warm-up that increases your heart rate & elevates body temperature over simple stretching
- Walk briskly, swinging arms in a pain-free manner, start slow, building up to higher intensity exercise
Preventing Back and Neck Pain
One of the best ways to avoid back pain is by exercising and stretching. Low-impact aerobics, such as walking or swimming, is an ideal way to prevent or treat back pain. Stop if the exercise becomes painful, and always remember to stretch. Stretching is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. You can even do it in front of the television.