By Darren Buford
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2001.
Contrary to popular belief, recent research shows wearing a back belt while doing heavy lifting isn’t as effective at preventing injuries as previously thought. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported those who routinely wear back belts 2–3 times per week reported the same number of lower-back injuries as those workers who either only wore a back belt 2-3 times a month or who never wore them at all. Investigating more than 6,300 workers for more than two years, researchers concluded employers who require their staffers to wear back belts reported just as many injuries as employers who do not.
How can you prevent back pain? According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the keys are staying fit through exercise and diet, relaxation techniques and proper posture. In his Self Healing newsletter, Weil recommends regular aerobic exercise, strengthening supportive muscles (such as abdominals, legs and buttocks) and flexibility training.
As for posture, Weil reminds us to get up and stretch after sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time, as well as remembering beneficial sleep postures — on your back with knees bent and supported by a pillow, or side-lying with a pillow placed between the knees.