Are you protecting your back?

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Do your spine a favour by doing this quick quiz on how best to keep it from harm.

True or False:

1. Pushing a weight is safer for your back than pulling.


2. The best way to lift a weight is to hold it close to your body and bend your knees.


3. Back/abdominal belts allow you to safely lift heavier weights.


4. Prolonged bed rest is needed to allow healing after a back injury.


5. The best time to stretch your muscles is in the morning.


6. Heat is good for an acute back injury.


7. Going for a slow walk is the best exercise for an aching lower back.


8. A straight-backed, armless chair promotes back health.


ANSWERS

1. Pushing a weight is safer for your back than pulling. TRUE.
Generally, pushing is better because you put your weight behind the force you exert.


2. The best way to lift a weight is to hold it close to your body and bend your knees.TRUE.
The aim is to exert as little weight on your spine as possible.


3. Back/abdominal belts allow you to safely lift heavier weights. FALSE.
There is no strong evidence that these belts offer any protection against back injury.


4. Prolonged bed rest is needed to allow healing after a back injury. FALSE.
Generally, bed-rest is only beneficial for the first couple of days after onset of back pain. Prolonged bed-rest can cause various problems, including muscle wasting which makes your back even more vulnerable to harm.


5. The best time to stretch your muscles is in the morning. FALSE.
It's good to stretch in the morning, but it's better to stretch at regular intervals throughout the day.


6. Heat is good for an acute back injury. FALSE.
An ice-pack and anti-inflammatory painkillers are a better bet.


7. Slow walking is the best exercise when you have back pain. TRUE.
Don't do vigorous exercise (including yoga and overly-ambitious stretching) while your back is still sore. Gradually build up to more strenuous workouts. Walking, even a few steps, is generally the safest and simplest exercise after a back injury. Swimming may also be helpful to incorporate into your exercise routine as you heal.

8. A straight-backed, armless chair promotes back health. FALSE.
The best kind of seating supports your back i.e. it has armrests and a small cushion for the lower back.

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