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10 tips for protecting your back every day

NASHVILLE, Tenn., -- March 18, 2013 -- Back pain is the most commonly reported pain condition in America. About 65 million Americans have had a recent episode of back pain, and 8 percent of all adults are so bothered by back pain that it limits their daily activities in some way. 

Dr. Arthur Ulm, neurosurgeon with Baptist Hospital, shares some simple tips for the best ways to protect your back in situations you encounter every day. 

Help Your Back in Bed

One of the best ways to protect your back is with a mattress and sleep positions that support it. Make bedtime a haven for your back.

  • Choose the right mattress. Firmer is usually best.
  • Keep your bed in shape. Change your mattresses every five to seven years.
  • Sleep smart. Avoid sleeping on your stomach - your side or back is better.
  • Rise and shine. Stretch fully and let your body wake up - this will help in preventing injuries. 

Back Pain in the Car

90 percent of Americans commute by car. Bad positioning in your vehicle can quickly add up to back pain.

  • Choose the right vehicle. The more vertically you can sit, allowing you to keep your knees level with or below your hips, the better for your back.
  • Set your seat properly. Don’t push it so far back that you have to lean or hunch forward to reach the steering wheel.
  • Take breaks. If you have a long trip ahead of you, stop about every hour to stand, stretch, and redistribute your weight. 

Protect Your Back at Work

Sitting hurts your back more than standing because your legs are shock absorbers, and when you sit, you end up putting all that weight on your spine.

  • Position your computer properly. Be seated at eye level to your screen, so that you don’t have to look too far down or too far up to do your work.
  • Sit smart. Sit with your knees at 90 degrees and your spine in a neutral position.
  • Take a break. Every 45-50 minutes, get up for a few minutes to stretch and walk around. When you sit back down, make sure you’re getting into a supported position with a neutral spine - neither slumped forward nor pushed back.

For more information about back and spine disorders, and how to keep your back healthy, visit

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