While you are recovering and afterward, these tips can help make some common tasks easier to perform and help protect your back at the same time.
Getting Dressed: Putting on and taking off socks, slacks, and underwear may be easier to do lying on your back. A tool called a dressing reacher can be of help. To make dressing and undressing easier, wear loose clothes and slip-on shoes with closed backs.
Getting Ready to Lie Down: Before you lie down, make sure that you have the things you need within reach. Gather items such as medications, eyeglasses, reading material, and other things you may want. Be sure to place them so you won’t have to twist your back to reach them. If you are not able to gather the items yourself, ask a family member or friend to help.
Washing at the Sink: While standing at the sink, bend your knees and hips and keep your back in a neutral position to take stress off your spine.
Showering: Use a hand-held shower to wash your hair, or bend at the knees and hips under the shower head to avoid arching your back. To avoid bending, use a long-handled scrub brush. Use liquid soap so you don’t need to pick up a dropped bar of soap.
Eating: Slide your chair as far under the table as possible. Do not lean forward or put your elbows on the table.
Grocery Shopping: Buy small amounts of groceries at a time instead of one large order. Ask the checker to keep the bags light and to use bags with handles. Put the shopping bags on the car seat, not in the trunk or on the floor
Caring for a Child: If you have small children, arrange for help while you are recovering. Put the changing table on a raised surface, or adjust it to waist height. Use a reacher to pick up small objects, such as toys, from the floor. If you must lift a baby from a crib, lower the railing of the crib and bring the child close to your body before you lift
Working in the Kitchen: Store food and tools you use often on the counters or the middle shelves of the refrigerator where they are easy to reach without bending or stretching. While working, stand with one foot in front of the other or resting on a stool to take stress off your spine.
Working at a Desk: When you are ready to go back to work, ask your PT how you can arrange your desk and work space to protect your back.
Being Intimate: Ask your doctor or PT when it will be safe for you to have sex. Side-lying positions may be more comfortable. If you lie on your back, support your neck and knees with pillows. Avoid arching your back. Also, avoid shifting the position of your spine too rapidly. Take it easy, and see what works for you and your partner.
Tips for Better Back Health
Taking care of your health can help you recover faster, feel better, and reduce the risk of re-injury. Factors that can affect your health and the health of your back include stress and excess weight. Addressing these issues now can help you keep your back healthy in the long run.
Releasing Stress: Try these methods for releasing stress, as stress can lead to tight, painful muscles:
Deep Breathing: Slow, calm, deep breathing can help you relax. Breathe in for a count of 5 or more. Then slowly let the breath out
Visualization: Imagining a peaceful, secure scene can give you a sense of control over your body and surroundings
Progressive Relaxation: Starting at the top of your head and working your way down your body, slowly tighten each muscle group for 10 seconds. Then release the muscle group for the same amount of time.
Managing Your Weight: Excess weight increases the load on your lower back. Maintaining a healthy weight makes your back less prone to injury. If you need to lose weight, talk to your doctor about exercise and changes in your diet. Your doctor may recommend a weight loss program to help.