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Back injuries like Dustin Johnson's are common

Apr 10th, 2012
GolfWorkout

Low back painDustin Johnson lost his chance to compete at the Masters by doing something we all occasionally do: lifting a heavy item awkwardly.

 

Johnson, the world's twelfth-ranked golfer, withdrew from the tournament after tweaking an existing back injury trying to lift a jet ski, according to his agent, David WInkle of Hambric Sports Management. Johnson hurt his back earlier in the year but kept playing while performing physical therapy and taking anti-inflammatory medications. However, his "I-can-lift-that-no-problem" moment caused a flare-up.

 

Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on low back pain, the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work. Back pain is the second most common neurological ailment in the United States. Only headache is more common.

 

A combination of exercises that don't jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly can help prevent injuries. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, speed walking, swimming, or stationary bike riding 30 minutes a day can increase muscle strength and flexibility. Yoga can also help stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture.

 

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Here are some tips for a healthier back from the NINDS:

 

  • Always stretch before exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
  • Don’t slouch when standing or sitting. When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet. Your back supports weight most easily when curvature is reduced. 
  • At home or work, make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
  • Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books. 
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.
  • Ask for help when transferring an ill or injured family member from a reclining to a sitting position or when moving the patient from a chair to a bed.  
  • Don’t try to lift objects too heavy for you. Lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when lifting. 
  • Maintain proper nutrition and diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles. A diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps to promote new bone growth. 
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate.

 

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