One of the most common health problems is back pain. It seems that the
twenty-four vertebrae that make up our spinal column are the bones
that cause the most problems. Some think that this problem is due to
the fact that humans stand on their two feet. But considering that
we have been standing up for more than a million years, this theory
does not hold much water.
It is said that our forefathers used to suffer so much from this
problem that they accepted it as a fact of life and few grumbled
about it. The truth is that this problem is on the increase and we
are not sure why. What we are sure of is what causes the pain, and
hence we know how to tackle the problem.
The most common cause for back pain is excessive physical exertion,
often from lifting heavy items or sudden abnormal movements
or worst, both together. This causes a great strain on the back with
dire consequences. When this happens we feel a sudden pain in the
back. But in most instances the pain is not strong enough to stop
our work and usually goes away after a few days. Furthermore, the worst
thing we could do in such situations is to lie still and rest. It is
much better to keep moving and do some light
However, if the pain persists, you may have incurred a serious injury, such
as a slip disc, and professional help is necessary. This disc, which
is shaped like a small doughnut, serves as a shock absorber and is
positioned between the vertebrae. Its function is to cushion the
spinal column’s movements and prevents the vertebrae from knocking
against each other.
Many of our body’s nerves pass through a hole in each vertebrae and disc.
So, when a disc moves, looses its position or worst collapses, it
will create pressure on the nerves, with the result of pain in the
back and/or other parts of the body such as the arms or legs.
Repairing such damage is a very long and difficult
A good posture is necessary for many reasons, but it is most
advantageous for our back. To prevent any problems to our back it is
necessary to know how to sit, stand, walk and do other movements
If you spend a good part of the day sitting, make sure you have a good
chair. The chair’s back should give good support to the small of the
back. This is important, as this is where most of our back’s
problems start. The part we sit on should be large enough to support
the upper part of our legs. However, ensure that the chair’s edge is
not pressing on the mid thigh, but support is throughout the upper
leg up to behind the knee. The chairs height should be such that our
feet rest squarely on the floor.
Take care when lifting something from the floor. The best way is to
squat, grab the object and stand up again, always keeping your back
straight. This way, your legs, and not your back, are carrying the
weight of the object. When you carry heavy stuff use both hands,
keeping the object in front of you and close to your stomach. If you
have doubts about its weight leave it and call for help.
When working on a workbench or the kitchen tops, do not bend over, but
keep your back straight. If you regularly use such worktops, it is
important that the work surface is at the correct height for you. A
good height test is that the surface should ideally be between two
to eight inches (5cm to 20cm) below the elbow.
As we spend some 30% of our lives sleeping, our bed must also be
assessed. A hard or semi-hard mattress is recommended. A bed that sags in the
middle should be avoided, as this prevents you from keeping your
Finally, but the most important point for good posture is our body weight.
Excess weight is taxing on our backs, as is carrying heavy objects.
In fact overweight persons often suffer from back pain. Hence,
it is imperative that we maintain our weight according to our body
mass and height.
"I want to get old gracefully. I want to have good posture,
I want to be healthy and be an example to my children."