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Preventing Back Pain

Sitting for Long Periods

Anything that puts the spine in a static, non-moving position can stress the muscles in the back and neck, causing strain and pain. In short, the back and neck need to be moved to avoid strain. Standing or sitting in one position is a recipe for strain and pain.

Once an hour, stand, walk around, bend, arch backward gently and twist. When flying on a plane, stand in the aisle, walk the length of the plane and twist before sitting back down. Doing so at regular intervals will lengthen the amount of time you can sit comfortably.

Also, in your home or office, consider getting an ergonomically designed chair or an orthopedic insert to support your spine, especially if your job involves long periods of sitting. Or roll up a towel and place it behind your low back.

Comfortable Way to Stand

Prolonged standing can compress facet joints in the back. If you have to stand for long periods, prop one foot on a small stool or telephone book to decrease stress in the low back. Alternate with the other foot. Every half hour, bend over and touch your toes with your knees slightly bent. This will help loosen muscles, ligaments and joints.

Plane Rides

It helps to raise your feet on a briefcase or a bag underneath the seat in front of you. Ask for a pillow to place behind your low back to improve lumbar support.

The Best Sleeping Position

Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which arches the back and puts pressure on your spine. Instead, lie on your back with a small pillow tucked underneath your knees. This position unloads the spine. An alternate position is to lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. If you like sleeping on your stomach, place a soft, flat pillow under your stomach to eliminate some of the arch that can stress your back.

Mattress Considerations

It's important to sleep on a mattress with good back support, whether it is a conventional mattress or waterbed. Older waterbeds were mushy and provided little support. Now you can buy waterbeds that allow you to adjust the firmness level. A good mattress should relate to your body shape. Generally, go with what feels comfortable to you.

Book Resources




Exercise Library neurosurgery and spine center in north dakota, wyoming and nebraska

These stretches and exercises can relieve pain symptoms, strengthen the back and neck, and increase flexibility and resistence to future strain. Learn more.

anatomy library  neurosurgery and spine center in north dakota, wyoming and nebraska

Learn what causes your back or neck pain with medical illustrations and narrated animations. Click here.


Numerous patients have shared their life-changing experiences with the physicians at Black Hills Neurosurgery & Spine. Read more.

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