Summer is almost here and you're feeling the effects of another school year behind you. Let's face it...being a teacher takes more than mental toughness - your standing a lot, bending over desks and sitting to grade papers - this can really start to take its toll! It's not uncommon for teachers to experience low back pain. SO, we'd like to share a few tips with you to help maintain a strong, healthy back and avoid pain!
1. Engage Your Core
This is easier said than done. Let's start by "finding" your core. Lay on your back with your knees bent. Place your index finger and middle finger of both hands just inside your hip bones. Next, take a deep breath in, slowly exhale and attempt to very gently draw your belly button towards your spine. You should feel your lower abdominals gently contract under your fingers. Try to hold this for 5 seconds without letting up or holding your breath.
After you have this mastered, see if you can do it standing. If you can keep your lower abdominals engaged while standing, you should practice this throughout the day. It becomes very useful when you have to do things like bend forward over desks or lift heavy boxes, and can ultimately help you avoid an injury.
2. Practice Healthy Ergonomics
If you grade papers like most teachers do, there's a good chance you are guilty of having poor posture at some point. Here are a few of my favorite "grading papers" positions teachers have shared with me over the years.
- Cross legged on the floor, couch or bed
- Laying on their stomach on the floor, couch or bed
- Hunched over a desk
- Leaning over a crappy tray on an airplane
No wonder this group has back problems! Ideally, you want to sit (with both feet on the ground) or stand. Check out the image below for the best way to grade your next assignment.
3. Keep Your Body in Balance
When it's time to stand, make sure you avoid this next major pitfall!
- Don't allow yourself to "over-arch" your low back when you stand. (also referred to as swayback)
This type of posture leads to tight hips, a weak core and glut muscles, and excessive pressure through the lowest joints in your spine - a major imbalance of strength to flexibility! If you think your posture is worth an A+, try this simple trick to see if you've earned the grade.
- Stand with your back against a wall. Are you able to comfortably touch the back of your head, the backs of both shoulders AND the small of your back to the wall at the same time? If not, you may have already started to develop some imbalances.
We hope these few pointers have given you some insight into how you can avoid back pain. If you're like a lot of other educators, back pain can not only impact your ability to engage in the classroom, it can also limit your social and home life too.
We want to help make your Summer as relaxing and enjoyable as possible!
Take advantage of these next couple of months and take care of your body so you can enjoy your Summer and feel refreshed by the time the new school year rolls around! If you're interested in learning more about how we can help you with your back or any other pain you're having, request a Discovery Visit. This is a great way to get more information and start your journey to a healthier mind and body!
Dr. Lauren Manna
Owner and Physical Therapist
online, or call 504-407-3477 to speak to a physical therapist.