Summer is a popular time to take a family vacation, move to a new home and get caught up on backyard projects. Although no one adds “back injury” to their to-do list, these popular summer activities can lead to injuries.
About 4 million people head to their health provider for a back injury during the summer months, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Fortunately, you can prevent back injuries by using proper form while bending, lifting and twisting and keeping your core muscles strong and flexible.
The AAOS offers the following tips to help prevent back injuries:
- Use proper lifting techniques. This is especially important when you’re moving something heavy like a suitcase or furniture. Lift heavy items with your legs, not your back. Position yourself close to whatever you want to lift. Do not bend over to pick up heavy items. Keep your back straight and bend at your knees.
- Get help. If something is heavy, don’t try to lift it on your own. Ask your family and friends to help you. If you’re moving, consider hiring someone to help you.
- Use smart packing techniques. Pack lightly. When possible, place heavier items in a few smaller bags or boxes instead of one large item.
- Take breaks. If you’re traveling, be sure to give yourself a break from sitting in the same position for too long. The same goes for doing chores. Make time to stretch in between tasks.
- Maintain good posture. Use good posture throughout your flight or car ride.
When sitting, keep your back in a normal, slightly arched position. Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Keep your head and shoulders upright.
- Minimize falls.
- Wear properly fitting shoes with rubber, non-skid soles. This is important for both traveling or working outdoors, as certain shoes increase your chances of falling.
- If you’re working outdoors, secure hoses, rakes and other garden tools from your workspace to avoid tripping over those objects.
- Pets want to enjoy the outdoor weather just as much as you do. When doing projects outdoors with pets, consider placing a bell on your pet so you can locate them easily and know when they are near your feet to minimize a potential tripping hazard.
If you injure your back, talk to your health provider or spine specialist. While back pain often resolves on its own, some back and spinal injuries need immediate treatment. Do not ignore any symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness or pain radiating down the leg.