What You Need to Know About Prevention

  • Preventive medicine helps you avoid having medical problems or making an existing medical condition worse
  • In some cases, preventive medicine may be covered by your insurance
  • Preventive medicine can be very important to your overall health and vitality

An Ounce of Prevention

We’ve all heard the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When it comes to your back, there are many things you can do that can help prevent injury or stop your current back problems from becoming worse. And like the saying implies, these things are not huge—they’re little, simple things you can do every day.

  • Take stock of your mattress. You should be able to sleep with your spine in alignment. If your mattress sags, is too soft, or is generally just too old, invest in a new one that gives your back proper support.
  • Pay attention to your posture. Sit up and stand up straight. (This is harder than it looks.)
  • Exercise, particularly to strengthen the core muscles that help support your spine.
  • Wear shoes that allow you to stand and walk comfortably and do not throw off your posture.
  • If you spend a lot of the day sitting, invest in a chair that provides proper back support (or get some support cushions).
  • Learn the proper technique to lift objects (using your legs, not your back).

Danger Zones

Spinal injuries can occur doing some pretty ordinary things. If you do not know the “back-healthy” way to do these things, ask your University Spine Center physician or nurse.

  • Getting out of cars (put both feet on the ground before getting out of a car).
  • Getting proper back support when sitting at work or at home.
  • Bending over to pick things up (bend at the knees, not at the waist).
  • Lifting heavy objects (let your legs do the work).

There may be certain activities that you should not do because of your spinal problems. Your physician will advise you about these, which may include vacuuming, raking, sweeping, lifting, or participating in certain sports.

The Big Picture

When your back hurts, it is tempting to think you have a “back problem.”  But we all know back problems can affect all areas of life! By the same token, staying well means taking care of more than just your back.

  • Get adequate sleep and plenty of rest.
  • Whenever possible, avoid stress.
  • Take time to “detox” from those stressful situations you cannot avoid.
  • Eat healthful foods.
  • If you are overweight or obese, take sensible steps to lose weight.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Get as much exercise as you can.
  • Do not overindulge in things you know are not helpful, particularly alcohol or rich food.
  • Take time out several times a day to stretch. Your physician can show you some easy but powerful stretching moves.
  • Make time every day for simple pleasures—a funny movie, visiting with friends, calling a loved one, enjoying a hobby, watching a game.
  • See your University Spine Center medical team regularly and follow their advice.