The back is essential to performing activities and maintaining balance. It is subjected to daily stress of execution and carrying weights. It may also feel strain from little comfort and poor body alignment. Other than that, it is home to the extensive network of nerves that have communication with different parts of the body. Injuring the lower back means a possibility of harming the hips and extremities. Therefore, preventing lower back injuries is one important aspect of nursing care.
Many factors increase an individual’s risk for lower back injuries. Two of the greatest contributors are habitual poor standing and sitting positions which produce lordosis. Exaggerated lumbar curvature because of carrying extra weight on the abdomen is also observed in obese individuals, pregnant, and women who consistently wear high-heeled shoes. Individuals with sedentary lifestyle are also at risk because of weak back and abdominal muscles.
Here are six back injury prevention guidelines that nurses can teach their clients:
Make Proper Posture a Habit
It is easy to get lost in thousands of daily activities one submerges himself into. As a result, posture, or the body’s position when held upright against gravity, is largely dictated by an individual’s habit or daily routine. Poor posture can be caused by prolonged sitting and/or standing, carrying bag on the same shoulder, and even sleeping. Thus, it is important to be consciously aware of posture and body mechanics.
When standing, head should be held straight with earlobes in line with the middle of the shoulders. Keeping the shoulder blades back and the knees straight should be observed too. In addition, stomach should be tucked in and the pelvis should not be tilt forward or backward. When standing for a prolonged period of time, periodically move the legs and hips. It is also helpful to flex one hip and knee as well as rest one foot on an object.
When sitting, back should be straight and shoulders should be kept back. The buttocks must touch the back of the chair. Knees should be bend at right angles and must be kept higher than the hips. Maintaining the same position for 30 minutes should be avoided. Back support in the form of firm mattress, soft pillows, and lumbar roll can be used to maintain all three normal back curves while present.
Know Lifting Limits
It is important for nurses to educate clients on the guidelines for lifting and the proper technique to do it. As a rule, everyone is advised to avoid lifting objects that are over 51 pounds. When lifting an object, weight must be distributed between the large muscles of the legs and arms. It is also important to note that the acceptable limit of the load held at elbow height is 15 to 25 pounds. Observance of proper body mechanics while manually handling a load greater than 51 pounds will not necessarily prevent back injuries.
When objects to be lifted are over the limit, nurses must encourage clients to use appropriate assistive devices or even ask help from co-workers. For nurses working in the industry and private settings, active participation in purchasing or ordering process is one important responsibility. Lastly, nurses must emphasize to the clients that even the young and strong are not excused to lower back injuries so caution should always be observed.
Learn About the Lifting Lifesavers
Proper body mechanics while lifting is important to be learned by heart. It ensures safety, places less stress on the body, and conserves energy.
The individual and his center of gravity must remain close to the object. The base of support should be wide and feet must be position according to the direction of movement one will use to perform the activity. No twisting must be executed when lifting. However, as much as possible, it is better to push, pull, or roll and slide an object instead of lifting it.
Allot Time for Exercise
While exercise aims to improve overall physical condition, it is particularly of importance in keeping the pelvic, abdominal, and spinal muscles strong and adaptive. It can also help regulate weight. For example, low-impact cardiovascular exercises can facilitate optimum blood flow to the spine. As a result, the area is well-nourished and adequately hydrated.
Reduce Risk for Accidents
One of the most effective ways to reduce the chances of slipping, stumbling, and turning the ankle is to wear low-heeled non-skid shoes. It is important that choice of footwear should prioritize comfort and good foot support.
Improve Overall Health Condition
It is no secret that to improve the overall health of the body is to improve the spine. Aside from exercise, some of the conservative measures to improve the body include adequate hydration, moderate alcohol, stopping smoking, and prioritizing restorative sleep.
Millions of people have complaints on their backs. These conditions can usually increase their risk for back injuries. What are the other preventive measures for back injuries that you know of? Add them to this list and share them now for others to be educated! Time to get those backs safe and straight!