Motivation Monday: Lift with your legs, save your back

7:17 AM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Is back pain making you miserable? If so, you're not alone.

8 in 10 Americans experience back pain in their lifetime, whether it be a dull, constant ache or a sudden, sharp pain.

Exercise could be the key to beating those odds.

This week's Motivation Monday brings fitness expert Chris Freytag to KARE 11 Sunrise, and shows us how to feel better with exercise.

1. Exercise. Regular low-impact aerobic activities - those that don't strain or jolt your back - can increase strength and endurance in your back and allow your muscles to function better. Walking and swimming are good choices. Talk with your doctor about which activities are best for you.

2. Strengthen your core. Abdominal and back muscle exercises (core-strengthening exercises) help condition these muscles so that they work together like a natural corset for your back. Flexibility in your hips and upper legs aligns your pelvic bones to improve how your back feels. Your doctor or physical therapist can let you know which exercises are right for you.

3. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts strain on your back muscles. If you're overweight, trimming down can prevent back pain.

Use proper body mechanics:

4. Stand smart. Maintain a neutral pelvic position. If you must stand for long periods of time, alternate placing your feet on a low footstool to take some of the load off your lower back. Good posture can reduce the amount of stress placed on back muscles.

5. Sit smart. Choose a seat with good lower back support, arm rests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level. Change your position frequently, ideally at least once every half hour.

6. Lift smart. Let your legs do the work. Move straight up and down. Keep your back straight and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body. Avoid lifting and twisting simultaneously. Find a lifting partner if the object is heavy or awkward. Learning to lift properly may be more effective at preventing a recurrence of back pain than a first episode.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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