8 - Back to the Future - Information

Goals Information Skills Drills Questions Review

 Information to Master

This is your last session of Back Care Boot Camp. But it's your first step toward lifelong spine health. In this session, you'll be encouraged to get any last-minute questions answered. You'll also learn where to go and what to do next, which includes choosing an active routine to keep your back in tip-top shape. You'll also find there are other resources to complement what you've learned and done this far.

Before jumping ahead, spend time recalling what you learned in Session Seven. Review the answers from last session's Questions for Review.

 Answers for Review

Answers for Review

In the last session, you were asked three questions. Take a few moments to compare your answers to those given here.

1. How can fear keep a person from getting back to work?

People may be afraid that they'll hurt themselves again. Their fear may hold them back from being active, which can cause them to become unfit and even more aware of their pain. Their fear of re-injury strongly predicts that they'll have a harder time getting back to their jobs. Helping them overcome this fear is an important step in getting safely and swiftly back to work.

2. How do you define ergonomics?

It's the study of work and how to make it more efficient for each worker. The goal is to increase productivity by reducing fatigue and discomfort. It can include rearranging the workstation, modifying tools, taking rest breaks, and implementing work safety programs.

3. How do wellness and physical fitness improve spine health at work?

Wellness at work is all about action. It describes the worker who knows the risks for back problems and how to avoid them. It means taking action and making decisions to deal with problem areas. Physical fitness is important because it helps workers have improved energy, alertness, and self-esteem. It addresses flexibility, strength, aerobic conditioning, and relaxation. The Surgeon General reports that 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week improves physical fitness.

What's Next

Get Moving

  • Take the stairs, not the elevator.
  • Park further away to increase your walk to work or the store.
  • Take a brisk walk instead of eating a snack.
  • Rake your own leaves.
  • Mow your own lawn.
  • Pick up the pace when working in the house or yard.
  • Take mini-breaks during work hours to stretch and walk.
  • Carry your own groceries.

Your formal training in Back Care Boot Camp is nearly over. You've followed the syllabus step by step, done the exercises, and applied the tips you've learned. So where do you go from here?

Practice what you know. Check yourself often each day to ensure you're putting what you know to work. How's your posture? Is your back positioned safely when you sit, stand, and walk? Are you lifting with back safety in mind? Have you engaged your core muscles lately? The health of your spine depends on the actions you take to keep your back toned and safe. It's up to you to put into practice the ideas that can protect your back long into the future.

Manage your back condition. The goal of Back Care Boot Camp is to help you take control, to be self-sufficient in caring for your back. If your symptoms flare up - and likely they will - you've got the tools and know-how to manage them. You may need to back off for a short while. And then you'll gradually resume familiar activities and exercises. If you're having new and different symptoms, or if you're experiencing "red flag" symptoms (refer to Session Six), then see your doctor right away.

Refresh your spine know-how often. The course syllabus and accompanying information are yours to keep. Use them as a refresher. Challenge your knowledge by answering again the Questions for Review. Use the syllabus as a resource when you need to strategize a complex lifting situation or when you see a potential back hazard at work.

Do your exercises daily. You've learned a number of helpful exercises that are designed to improve your comfort and to protect your back for the years ahead. Don't quit doing them simply because you've completed your formal sessions. Unless your doctor or therapist instructs otherwise, continue doing the exercises you've learned. Today's research shows that people who stay on a course of exercise fare best.

Find a favorite activity for the future. Along with keeping up on your exercises, find one or more enjoyable ways to stay active and motivated in taking care of your back. Do you love to swim? Then find a program where you can join others who swim. Do you enjoy exercising at a gym? Get a membership and begin working out at a nearby fitness club. You don't have to join a specialized program to stay active. A personalized exercise program may be right for you. Perhaps you'd prefer more of a mind-body way to keep your back healthy. Try yoga or Tai Chi. Seeking to maximize your core strength? Pursue individual or group Pilates exercise.

Finding the Right Routine

  • Aquatics
  • Fitness
  • Personalized exercise
  • Pilates
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga

Choose Your Future

As you look to the future, it is crucial to find activities that you like. It's easy to stick with a program that you really enjoy. The key is to choose an active routine, rather than passive treatment.


Exercising in a pool is a great way to keep your back healthy for the years ahead. Working in the water puts less stress on the low back than exercising on land. The warm water helps relax muscles, and the buoyancy allows for easier movement during exercise. Many health clubs offer pool memberships. Some have group exercises for the spine.


People who have had back pain benefit by staying fit. Joining a health club may be a way for you to keep up with an active routine. Many health clubs run classes and group programs to improve core strengthening, aerobic conditioning, and flexibility. Your therapist can work with trainers at the fitness facility to help design a program that's right for you.

Personalized Exercise

There are many active exercise routines you can do on your own. Start with the home program demonstrated by your therapist. This routine may be all that you need to keep your back flexible and strong. You may wish to supplement your individual program by purchasing exercise equipment, videos, or books. Take steps throughout the day to increase your activity for added fitness benefits.


The Pilates method of body conditioning has been used successfully by dancers for many years. It is one of the fastest growing exercise programs today, benefiting people of all ages and activity levels. Pilates provides a well-rounded fitness program which focuses on core stabilization. The exercises simultaneously stretch, strengthen, and align the body. Pilates emphasizes resistance during movement, which requires precisely controlled actions of the body's inner muscles. Pilates promotes the mind-body connection by repeating various exercises, producing lasting change in posture, body balance, and core stability.

Tai Chi

Originating in China in the 1300s, Tai Chi is now a popular form of exercise in the West. It is based on the circulation of energy (chi), which provides self-healing through movement. It is well suited for people with back pain because it teaches you to become aware of your posture and movement. The various forms of Tai Chi integrate your mind and body. The movements are gentle, yet they foster improved flexibility, coordination, balance, and strength.


Yoga is a 5,000-year-old system. It developed in India and provides a complete philosophy of living. The word yoga means "to yoke or join together." Yoga unites the mind and body through specific poses and breath work. Yoga can help mend the back and keep your back healthy. Practicing yoga creates strength, flexibility, improved posture, and body awareness. Breath work and relaxation help to ease tension and stress.

Pay a "Complement" to Other Healthcare Providers

Where do most people get help when they have back pain? Traditionally, they see their doctor or physical therapist. They may also supplement conventional medical help by integrating complementary treatment and services. Now known as Complementary and Integrative Medicine, or CIM, these treatments and services include Chiropractic care, massage, and herbal medicine.

CIM is built on the idea that our bodies can self-heal. CIM practitioners look at the whole person. They treat the mind, body, and occasionally the spirit in order to foster inner healing of the body.

Twenty-five percent of back and neck pain patients combine medical care along with CIM therapies. Some people find improved results in preventing and treating illness, disease, and pain. The two forms of care must be coordinated for the best results.

As you complete your journey through Back Care Boot Camp, know that you are in charge of your spine health. You must make the connection between your current and future health. Many options and choices are in vogue and can help cinch this connection. Your next step is to complete your strategy for lifelong spine health.

Goals Information Skills Drills Questions Review

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