The surefire way to hurt your back is to use it. But you have to use it, so the key is to avoid those things that put your back at maximum risk.
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"There's a million things," says Joel Press, MD, medical director of the Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Centers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. "Things like trying to pick up an air conditioner and throw it into the back of your car, or gardening for six hours in one afternoon. Or playing 36 holes of golf without stretching first. It's all good for my business."
The price of carelessness is back pain that can range from a few days' aches to the constant pain of a herniated disk. The preventive measure is simple: learn how to use your back sensibly.