May 2004 Edition
Healthwise: Take a Stand Against Back Pain

It’s a leading cause of missed workdays in Canada, and it costs millions of dollars in lost productivity each year. If you're one of the four out of five adults who suffer from back pain regularly, a few simple guidelines can help prevent injuries and keep you standing tall!

Watch your posture. Incorrect posture can cause injury by placing additional pressure on the spinal column. When you're on your feet, stand up straight with your weight balanced left-to-right and front-to-back. When sitting, your feet should touch the floor and the lumbar area should be supported (try placing a rolled-up towel or small pillow against the small of your back.)

Handle with care. When lifting a heavy object, bend your knees and use your leg muscles instead of your back.

Sleep on it. If your back is sore first thing in the morning, your mattress might be the culprit. Take the time to find one that works well for you.

Add crunches to your workout. Weak abdominals can place a disproportionate burden on the back muscles to keep the body erect. Adding crunches or other ab work to your exercise routine can help develop strong muscles to share the workload.

Practice shoe sense. Wear comfortable, well cushioned shoes with a moderate heel - especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet.

Get help. If back pains become severe or lasts longer than a day or two, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Bone up on Calcium

Speaking of a healthy spine, calcium is one of the most important dietary elements in promoting strong bones and teeth. This superior mineral also pays a vital role in muscle and nerve activity, the release of hormones, and blood clotting - and most Canadians aren't getting enough.

Adults 19 to 50 years of age require about 1,000 mg of calcium a day, and those over fifty require about 1,200 mg a day. Do your guests a healthful favour by offering menu options rich in calcium - and in palate pleasing flavours!

  • Serve a side dish of bone-building vegetables like collard greens, spinach, kale and broccoli.
  • Experiment with different cheese varieties - like Danish blue cheese, feta or colby - to add both calcium and enticing flavour to appetizers, salads or side dishes.
  • A healthy bone's best friend is a tall glass of cold milk - make sure it’s on your beverage menu.
  • Try out some recipes that are calcium loaded - like vegetable lasagna, grilled cheese sandwiches and creamy soups that are made with milk instead of water.
  • Fortify your dessert menu with dairy rich options like pudding, custard, frozen yogurt and low-fat ice cream.