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Injury Prevention Strategies: Avoid back pain

You need a strong—and pain-free—back to perform a lot of military duties, from the ammunition can lift in the CFT to lifting and moving heavy objects as part of your daily duties. Once a person has a back injury, the path to recovery can be long and painful! Trying to maintain a strong and healthy back will save you from this process.

Strength

Issue #1: A weak back is more likely to be injured.

Perform exercises to strengthen the muscles that run along your spinal column. The National Institutes of Health has an interactive tutorial and other information. Start off slowly if you haven’t done these types of exercises before: A good rule of thumb is to listen to your body when starting a new exercise routine—if you are sore and tired, it’s time for a break. You may need to decrease the amount of exercise you are doing for a while.

Flexibility

Issue #2: Maintaining flexibility in the muscles along your spinal column can improve your range of movement and decrease the likelihood of injuring your back.

  • Try these simple exercises to improve flexibility in your back.
  • If you have an exercise partner you can also try passive stretches—a type of stretch in which someone moves your body for you and holds you in a position of stretch. But make sure your partner is knowledgeable! Keeping the muscles of the hip and thigh flexible is important in back-injury prevention, so give these passive stretches a try.

Warm up

Issue #3: There’s an increased risk of injuring yourself if your body isn’t prepared for the activity.

  • A warm up is important to prepare your muscles and joints for any activity. A short jog or fast walk that lasts from five to 10 minutes is recommended.
  • After you warm up, perform stretching to prepare your muscles and joints for the stresses and impacts to come.
  • An alternative to the basic warm up described above is called a dynamic warm up.
  • HPRC has more information about warming up.

Lifting techniques

Issue #4: A lot of injuries to the back happen from improper lifting of objects.

    Five tips for proper lifting of heavy objects include:

      1. Plan the lift. Ask for help if an object seems too heavy.
      2. Face the object directly; don’t twist at the trunk.
      3. Bend at your knees, not at your waist.
      4. Keep the load as close to your body as possible.