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Health & Exercise Forum

Get Healthy and Prevent Lower Back Pain: Part 2 of 2 for Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

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May 13, 2013

Dr. Mackarey's Health & Exercise ForumGet Healthy and Prevent Lower Back Pain

Part 2 of 2 for Global Employee Health & Fitness Month May is Global Employee Health and Fitness month.  Research supports the notion that healthier employees are happier and more productive. When employers encourage healthy behavior  and safety at work, they benefit in many ways. For example, in additional  to improved job satisfaction and productivity, healthy employees save  money by using less sick time, worker’s compensation benefits and  health benefits. Deconditioned, overweight employees are more likely  to have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and are at greater  risk for injury. So, use Global Employee Health and Fitness Month as  an opportunity to start a health promotion program at your workplace…have  a health fair, offer healthy snacks, encourage walking or exercise at  lunch, or offer fitness club stipends. Lower back pain, one of the most costly illnesses  to employers, is one example of a preventable problem with a good health and safety program. It is widely  accepted in the medical community that the best treatment for lower  back pain (LBP) is prevention. Keeping fit, (flexible and strong), practicing  good posture, and using proper body mechanics are essential in the prevention  of LBP. If you missed Part 1 in this series, you can read it here.


When sitting, use an ergonomic chair at work station with a  lumbar support and adjustable height. Get close to your keyboard and  monitor. Stand up and perform  postural exercises every 45-60 minutes.

Proper Sitting Posture

Proper Sitting Posture


If you walk or stand most  of the day, wear good shoes. Avoid high heels and shoes without adequate  support like sandals.


If you drive long distances,  use a lumbar support to keep an arch in the small of your back, sit  close to your steering wheel to prevent bending forward and stop to  stretch using the above postural exercises every 45-60 minutes.

Maintain Fitness:

Aerobic exercise will help  prevent weight gain and stiffness for a healthier lower back. Perform  mild aerobic exercise such as walking 3-5 times per week for 30-45 minutes. Core stabilization exercises:  Core stabilization exercises  designed to strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles will help  prevent injury. Some examples of core exercises are: (Perform slowly - hold the  pelvic tilt 5 seconds, repeat 10 times)

    • Pelvic Tilt: Lying on your back and   performing a pelvic tilt as you flatten your lower back into the floor
    • Pelvic Tilt/Heel Slide: Lying on your   back, hold a pelvic tilt as you slide your one heel up and down and   repeat with the other heel
    • Pelvic Tilt/Arm Exercise: Perform arm   exercises such as biceps and triceps with light weight; while trying   to hold an isometric contraction of your abdominal and lower back muscles.   First perform lying on your back, then advance to sitting.

Avoid full sit-ups! Limit repeated flexion and torque on the  lower back by using core stabilization techniques to strengthen abdominal  muscles.


Weight Training –  

  • Performed 2-3 times per week, 20-30 repetitions with light weights through full range of motion
  • Avoid spinal loading from overhead lifting   such as military or overhead press

  Aerobic Exercises –  

  • 3-4 times per week for 30-45 minutes at moderate   intensity
  • Treadmill, bike, recumbent bike, elliptical, walk, cross-country ski

  Balance Exercises –  

  • Stand on discs or pillows to create unstable surface
  • First stand on two legs, then on one leg Walk/Run backward, then do a figure eight and crossover Dance

Visit your doctor regularly  and listen to your body.

NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise  Forum" in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

This article is not intended as a substitute  for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical  condition, please contact your family physician.

For further inquires related to this topic email: Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing  in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private  practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth  Medical College.