Maintaining Musculoskeletal Safety
Back and neck pain are extremely common, and people’s risk of incurring them increases with age. Many people may take for granted that musculoskeletal dysfunction is just a normal part of life, but that doesn’t have to be true. Chiropractic is based on the belief that the body has the ability to keep itself healthy when put in the right position to do so, and it doesn’t fail for no reason. This June is National Safety Month, and since chiropractors are often a crucial part of accident victims’ care teams, we’re taking a look at some of the factors that put people at greater risk for a musculoskeletal injury and what they can do to prevent accidents.
Injuries may be acute, meaning short-term and usually the result of a specific incident, or chronic, meaning long-term and usually degenerative. Having a chronic condition puts people at greater risk of developing acute injuries. But there are other things that put people at risk for back pain as well, including poor posture, weak core muscles, excessive weight, pregnancy, and things that restrict blood circulation such as smoking and diabetes. Musculoskeletal injuries often result from falls, which people are at increased risk for if they have poor vision, take medications for sleeping or relaxing, or have balance or muscle strength problems that interfere with walking on uneven surfaces. Once people are in their thirties, they become more likely to suffer an injury while lifting a heavy object.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Back Pain
Your chiropractor can help you determine which exercises are safe if you’re already injured or suffering a condition. But for most adults, it’s a good idea to get in one hundred and fifty minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or seventy-five minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (neither should be done all in one workout). A good idea is to do aerobic exercises like swimming that won’t further jostle your spinal column or other joints, or like yoga, which strengthens and stretches the core muscles. We depend on our cores to ease the weight burden on our spinal discs and to help us maintain good posture while standing or seated. It’s also wise to do strength training exercises twice a week, as these increase bone density as well as muscle mass and make balancing easier.
Maintaining bone density also depends on nutrition. In addition to consuming calcium, which is an essential component of bone tissue, we need to produce Vitamin D to absorb it. The easiest way to stimulate production of Vitamin D is to get regular exposure to direct sunlight.
We should try to avoid maintaining the same position for too long, but some postures put less strain on our musculoskeletal system than others. When seated, we should keep our backs straight against the chair and our feet flat on the floor. The position of a monitor shouldn’t require us to look down, and our shoulders shouldn’t have to hunch up.
Proper Lifting Technique
Some ways of carrying heavy objects are more dangerous than others. If you have to move something heavy and you’re not used to doing it, you may have forgotten the proper protocol, and you don’t want to be reminded by a herniated disc. When you pick up something heavy, spread your legs apart and squat down next to it. Lift yourself by pushing upward with your legs instead of bending your back, and avoid sudden movements. You’ll need to keep your core muscles tight and hold the object close to your body and as centered as you can get it. Don't twist your torso as you’re moving, and take equal care to lower the object slowly and by squatting down when you reach your destination.