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Back problems are endemic in today’s world. Many of these are lifestyle related – sedentary life, obesity, long hours of sitting. Fortunately these are easily resolved. How do we prevent back problems and stay healthy? Here are some tips.
The normal spine is a balanced construct with a double S curve; the head is supported on top of these curves. When the spine is unbalanced, muscles, ligaments and joints have to work harder. Fatigue and pain are inevitable.
Avoid prolonged sitting
Walk around from time to time
Raise and rest one foot on a block about six or eight inches high when standing
If you have been bending forwards, stretch and bend backwards
Crouch periodically to relax your back
Sleep in a comfortable position; a pillow under the knees helps.
Mattress should be firm and supportive.
Remember mattresses have a limited life span and need replacing periodically.
Sleep adequate hours.
Maintain the weight that is ideal for your height
Eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of water
Drink adequate fluids to maintain proper hydration
Take a calcium rich diet.
Expose your bare skin to the sun for 20 minutes to manufacture vitamin D
Start with a daily brisk walk and with basic PT exercises taught in school
Specific back exercises for the back are extension and flexion exercises. Extension exercises are done by lying on the tummy and raising one leg and thigh and holding it for six seconds each time. One can also raise the upper body while keeping the pelvis on the couch. Each time the body is put to maximum contraction and held for six seconds to have the best toning of the muscles.
Flexion exercises are done by lying on the back and raising the straight leg; this stretches the nerve root and conditions the nerve. In this position, bend the legs fully, raise the pelvis to maximum height, and hold for six seconds. Lastly, in standing position raise the arms in front and half squatting and holding there for six seconds.
All exercises should be done in gradual, gentle manner to start and become tougher as the body gets conditioned. It may be wise to take the guidance of a physiotherapist while doing exercises.
Most of the back problems arise as result of unprotected bending forward. This is avoided by working on a workstation at the correct height.
Be especially cautious when making beds!
When sitting, the spine should be well supported, in the chair; the knees are at the same level as the hips and the feet rest flat on the ground.
The table should be at the correct height.
Pain, numbness, weakness, disability, associated fever, unexplained weight loss are reasons to see your doctor.