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Back Pain
Back Pain
Back Pain


Going shopping

It is sensible to go shopping during off-peak hours to reduce the amount of time spent shopping and also to avoid the need to stand for prolonged periods in long queues. When reaching for articles on the shelves, you should bend your knees to reach the shelves that are very low or you should ask for assis- tance. You should also ask for assistance when reaching for articles above eye-level. Use a trolley that runs smoothly and do not fill it too heavily so that it is difficult to manoeuvre.

Consider online shopping and delivery services. Ask a shop assistant to carry your parcels and load them into your car. Go shopping more often and buy smaller quantities at any one time. When lifting groceries in and out of the car, keep items close to the body, bend your knees and keep your back straight.

Pregnancy and child care

During pregnancy the joints and ligaments in the area of the back and pelvis become more lax (due to hormonal changes) in preparation of the birth of the baby, making a pregnant woman more prone to pain and back injury. A preg- nant woman’s posture is affected by adapting to compensate for the effect of the added load of the growing baby at the front of the body. There is a ten- dency to arch the back and slightly lean backwards when standing and walk- ing, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Try and maintain a proper pos- ture by “standing tall” and tightening your stomach and pelvic floor muscles. Take extra care to protect your back during pregnancy and also caring for your baby after birth.

Wear comfortable, low heeled shoes when walking. Sit with your back properly supported. Do not sit in a chair that is too low, for it is difficult to stand up again. Try not to sit for long periods at a time; get up every half hour and move around. When feeding your baby, sit in a chair with your hips, knees and ankles at a right angle.

The baby cot should be at a proper height so that you do not have to bend your back to pick your baby up. Lower the side of the baby cot before lifting your baby or putting your baby down. If the baby cot is close to the floor, make sure that you kneel or squat when lifting your baby.

When lifting your baby, remember to always keep your back straight, to tight- en your stomach muscles and to keep your baby close to your body. Use a changing table or elevated work surface (with the proper height) when changing your baby’s clothes or nappy. Place the bath on a sturdy surface at your hip height. Kneel when bathing your baby in a regular bath.

Before lifting your baby from a regular bath, empty the bathwater, but cover your baby to retain the heat; then step into the bath with one foot (remember to use a non-slip bath mat). Sit on the rim of the bath and avoid twisting your back when lifting your baby. Remember to hold your baby close to your body when lifting her out of the bath.

Once you are holding your baby firmly, carefully bring your leg back over the rim of the bath and stand up with both feet firmly on the floor. Avoid carrying your baby on one hip for extended periods of time, for this places excessive stress on your spine. Go down on your knees when you want to pick your child up from the floor or a low chair. Once again, remember to keep your elbows close to your body.

If your baby is on the floor, you can always go down on the floor and allow your baby to crawl onto your lap. When your child is old enough, she can stand on a chair or step before you pick her up. You can then let her slide onto your knee or use a squat-lift while keeping your back straight.

Sport and exercise

A degree of physical activity is most often beneficial in limiting spinal pain. Sport and regular exercise assist in keeping your body fit and your muscles strong and it could help in reducing back pain. It is essential that you strength- en your stomach muscles and your leg muscles.

When participating in sport, it is important to keep the following in mind: Sport that requires a twisting action of your back or that involves excessive jumping (causing a jarring force on the discs) could have an adverse effect on your back pain.

Avoid sport or exercises that increases your back pain. Sporting activities that are recommended for people with back pain would include swimming, walk- ing, cycling and low impact aerobic exercises.

Some sporting activities such as bowls require a great deal of bending. Protect your back by keeping it straight and by tightening your stomach muscles. Use your strong leg muscles as much as possible when executing movements that involve bending.

Thorough warm-up exercises should be completed before commencing with your sporting activity. Regular stretching exercises are also important in pre- venting sport related injuries.

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Dr Liebenberg consults from selected clinics, when he is in South Africa. Please inquire if you would like to see him specifically.