Courtesy of MemorialCare.

By: Jason R. Koh, medical director, MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Medical Center

Our necks and backs are used when performing daily activities, when we are working and even when we are at rest. If you perform any of these tasks with improper form or posture, it can cause chronic neck and back pain, and in extreme cases, severe injury. At the MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Medical Center, we educate patients on three areas of daily life you can improve on to prevent neck and back injury: your sleep habits, your sitting posture and your lifting form.

Sleep habits can be the culprit for many neck and back issues since we stay in those positions all night. Over time, our bodies can feel the effects of the nightly strain we put them through if we are sleeping in a unproper position.

When sleeping, find the best sleeping position most comfortable for you. If you mainly sleep on your side, put a pillow between your knees and draw your knees up toward your chest. If you sleep on your back, keep the pillow under your knees to reduce strain on your lower back. If you sleep on your stomach, place a pillow underneath your belly to take strain off your back.

Proper posture when sitting is also very important to protect your neck and back. If you work from home or work at a job which requires you to sit for very long periods of time, improper posture can greatly affect your neck and back in the long run.

First, start by sitting at the edge of your seat. Sit upright with your feet flat on the floor and make sure the natural curves of your spine are maintained by keeping your ears, shoulders and hips aligned. Any shift in these three areas will place extra strain on different parts of your spine, which can result in great pain and increase your risk of injury.

Once you achieve this position, you will want to support your back as best as possible. Use a small, rolled up towel or pillow to place between your lower back and the chair.

When you are lifting things, improper form can cause you to improperly use the muscles in your back and result in serious injury. To avoid injury, be sure to keep your feet shoulder width apart and only bend at the hips and knees to use your leg muscles, not your back. Make sure your back stays straight as you lift the object.

If you do injure your back or neck, the MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Medical Center offers a continuum of rehabilitation services utilizing the latest in rehabilitation equipment. Whether it’s physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy, our goal is to maximize patients’ independence and quality of life. The MemorialCare Rehabilitation Institute at Long Beach Medical Center’s inpatient rehabilitation program is accredited by CARF International for its commitment to quality improvement, focusing on the unique needs of each patient, and monitoring the results of services.

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