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Tips on back care.


You don't have to be a manual laborer to experience back pain. The American Physical Therapy Association, a Virginia-based organization of physical therapists, assistants and students, offers these tips to alleviate some typical desk-job injuries:

* Adjust your chair so that you sit with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your back straight and your buttocks against the back of the chair. Your knees should be slightly above or even with your hips.

* Hold reading materials at eye level, supporting your elbows on a desk or chair arms. Use a vertical stand for typing notes to prevent bending your back.

* Avoid holding the phone receiver between your head and shoulder. Use a speaker phone or headset if you need your hands free while talking on the phone.

* When lifting heavy items, keep your back straight; bend from the knees rather than the waist. Use your leg muscles--not your back--to help you return to a standing position. Carry items close to your body.

* Assess your work area and work habits. Keep frequently needed materials in drawers or on bookshelves that can be reached without stooping down or reaching over your head. Arrange desk items so that you do not need to twist to reach them.

* Take occasional breaks to stand up and walk around to relieve pressure on the lower back from sitting.

The APTA also recommends these exercises and stretches every hour for tension relief:

* Shoulder shrugs--Raise shoulders, tighten; drop shoulders, tighten and relax.

* Neck rotations--Tuck chin into chest; turn head side to side, aligning chin with each shoulder; tilt head to each side, bringing the ear over each shoulder (do not roll head back).

* Hand clinchers--Make a tight fist with each hand, squeeze and release. Rotate wrists in circles. Gently shake out fingers; stretch fingertips back toward wrist.
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Title Annotation:American Physical Therapy Association
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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