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Secrets of a Healthy Back

Simple rules to heal and maintain your back.

A happy, healthy back is a vital part of your total health picture. By adopting these simple good postural habits, your back has the best chance of healing without the need for further intervention; saving you the distress and expense that comes with back pain.

Stand on Two Legs

Keep your weight evenly distributed on both legs. If you bias your weight onto one leg, as many do out of habit, your unweighted hip drops, twisting the pelvis. If the pelvis is not level and even, your spine, which is carried by your pelvis, can not be straight.

Keep Your Knees Unlocked

When you stand, maintain some spring in your knees. A soon as your knees are locked back, your legs stop being springs, and start being stumps. This places pressure on all of the ligaments of the pelvis and lower back and chest (all the way up to your head!). You need not stand with bent knees like you’re riding a horse, just keep the knees dynamic, not locked all the way back. This both activates the major muscles of the back, pelvis, and legs; and takes much stress and strain from the shoulders, chest and neck, as well as the whole spine and pelvis.

Sit on Both Buttock Cheeks

Just as standing on one leg causes the hips to be imbalanced, sitting with the weight biased on one buttock, even just a little, twists and tilts the pelvis. By sitting evenly, you are giving your spine an even foundation.

Keep Your Legs Uncrossed

Never, ever, cross your legs above the ankles when sitting. The mechanical forces placed on the pelvis twist it, just as standing on one leg or sitting on one buttock cheek does. Such strain affects every part of your body from the pelvis to the top of your head, even limiting your breathing.

No Wallet in Your Back Pocket

Just walking with a wallet in your back pocket is bad enough, but sitting on one is a recipe for giving lots of money to therapists that you don’t need to. Just place your wallet under the corner leg of a desk or chair to see what it does. Siting on a wallet does exactly the same thing, twisting and unbalancing your pelvis, and destabilizing your hips. Carry your wallet in a shirt pocket or a front pocket of your pants; but never in your back pocket. This is also a good security habit.

Lift Carefully

During any lift, if you can not comfortably stop (freeze) at any point, you are either lifting too much, or lifting incorrectly. Swinging a load, throwing a load, twisting with a load, etc. is never fully controlled, and is bad lifting technique. Never, ever, twist while lifting. Your shoulders and hips should occupy the same plane during any lift. If you need to turn during a lift, turn with your feet, not your back.

Use you knees when lifting. Your feet do not have to be together, but your back should be straight, and all vertical lifting force should be coming from your legs and buttocks. A simple way to think about this is to ‘lift like a fork lift; pick it up, swivel through your feet and legs, then place the load down, again, using the muscles of your legs and buttocks, never your bent back.

Water: A real Magic Elixir

Consume around a liter (quart) of pure water for every 25-35 kilos (50-70lbs) of your body weight daily. You will ensure that your kidneys have enough fluid to do their job and be happy. When your kidneys are happy, the liver can do its job. This results better resilience and resistance to injury and in faster healing if an injury is sustained. That your immune system, brain, hormones and everything else benefit directly is just a bonus worth drinking to!

Cross any Shoulder Strap

Handbags, computer bags etc all come with a single strap made to go over a shoulder. the trick is to wear that strap across your body, sitting on the opposite shoulder from the one where the bag itself is. If on the same side, you automatically lift the shoulder to stop the strap sliding off. This raising of the shoulder is done with the muscles attached to your neck and head, and causes many headaches and neck problems unless the strap is worn across the body.

Naturally, the lighter the bag, the better. Well fitted back packs are idea, provided both straps are used, not just one.

Always Wear Low Heels

When the heel is elevated above the front of the foot, the geometry of the legs and back is severely altered. This strains the joints and muscles of the legs, pelvis, back and spine, chest, and neck.

The magic formula – The heel must be no higher than 1/5th of the length of your foot from the back of your heel to the very start of your toes (not the tip). For a foot of 20cm (10″) length, a 4cm (2″) overall height difference is acceptable. Of course, less is better. Unless the heel is low, your back can’t get better, or stay better.