“As a caregiver, the best thing you can do for those who depend on you is to take care of yourself.”
Having a healthy back needs to be one of your top priorities, as it can be difficult to care for others when you are suffering from back pains.
As providing physical care can increase the risk of getting a back injury, it is important to use proper handling techniques to minimise strain on your body.Here are some general rules:
Use your legs more than your back.
- Adopt a stable base by keeping your feet apart during the transfer or movement of your loved one
- Make sure you bend your hips and knees, not your waist
- Maintain the natural curve at your back
- Keep the patient close to you when doing a lift
- Avoid twisting at your waist, maintaining sustained positions, or putting your joints at the extremes of their position
- Consider getting a back support belt to protect your back
- Get another person to help if needed
Protecting your back and engaging in self care can allow you to continue to provide the best care to loved ones.
It is also important for you to stay healthy and physically fit. Ensure you take frequent breaks and remain active by going for walks, doing light exercises and gentle stretching.
Here are some general back stretches to help prevent back strain or manage an existing back injury. You can try doing these exercises daily.
Double Knee Hug
This exercise helps to gently stretch and relax the muscles in your lower back.
- Lie on your back. Hug and slowly pull both knees towards your chest until a stretch is felt in your back and buttock area.
- Hold for 10-20secs, then slowly return to your original position. Do 5 to 10 repetitions.
This exercise helps to gently stretch and relax the muscles at the side of your back and buttocks
- Lie on your back with both legs bent.
- Slowly roll your knees to one side, keeping your upper trunk still.
- Stop when you feel tension and hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Do 5 to 10 repetitions.
This exercise helps to gently stretch and relax the muscles in your mid and lower back.
- Get into a four point kneeling position where your hands and knees are on the mat and your shoulders are above your hands and your hips are above your knees.
- Slowly rock backwards so that your buttocks approach your ankles. Slowly return to your original position. Do 5 to 10 repetitions.
This exercise helps to increase your back mobility and stretch your abdominal muscles.
- Lie on your stomach and straighten your legs behind you. Place both hands down on the floor, next to your shoulders.
- Press down on the floor with your palms and straighten your elbows, lifting your upper body as far up as you can.
- Keep your hip and legs relaxed.
- Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then slowly return to original position. Do 5 to 10 repetitions.
If your back pain is getting worse and the suggested exercises do not seem to help, please seek professional advice to manage your pain.
Article contributed by Physiotherapy, Rehabilitation, Allied Health Services.