Thursday, 6 March 2008

Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for time off work and visits to health professionals. Up to 70% of the population will be affected by it at some time.1Back pain can be triggered by heavy lifting or overuse of the muscles or ligaments. If body tissues become inflamed or damaged, local pain sensors send messages to the central nervous system and cause you to feel pain.To reduce your risk of lower back pain, you should take care when lifting and always warm up the muscles of the lower back with a few gentle stretches before attempting any strenuous activity.


  • Exercise regularly to improve muscle strength, mobility and flexibility.
  • Only take up sport or activity suited to your fitness level – don’t overdo it.
  • Always warm up and stretch before you exercise.
  • When lifting heavy or awkward items, always bend and lift with your knees.
  • Carry all heavy objects close to your body – holding them away invites back injury.
  • Beware of posture when sitting.
  • If you work at a desk, make sure your desk is at elbow height, your monitor is at eye level and you are sitting with knees slightly lower than your hips.
  • Avoid carrying heavy bags on one shoulder, overloaded backpacks or briefcases.

Exercise for health joints

You can help take pressure off joints by strengthening the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding them.

Here’s just a couple of the exercises recommended by Readers’ Digest Health Solutions: aim for 30 repetitions in one session.

Lie on your back with one leg bent and the other lying flat on the floor. Flex the foot of the flat leg (ie. point your toes backwards towards your head), tighten your knee so the leg is straight, then lift that leg until your foot is 60cm off the floor. Count slowly to five, then lower the leg slowly, touching the floor with your calf first. Repeat with other leg.

Look straight ahead with your chin slightly dropped. As you continue staring straight ahead, lower your head sideways so that your ear moves towards your shoulder (don’t lift your shoulder towards your ear). Bend your head to the other side and do the same.

FOR A STRONG, SUPPLE BACK Sit with legs crossed and hold your feet with your hands. Slowly lean forward, moving your face towards the floor.