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Go To Health! (Because Life's Too Short. . .)

the Author:

Shara Rendell-Smock, author

Shara Rendell-Smock has written more than twenty computer software manuals, numerous newspaper articles, including a monthly health column for The Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

She's the author of two books of non-fiction: Getting Hooked: Fiction's Opening Sentences 1950's- 1990's
Living With Big Cats: The Story of Jungle Larry, Safari Jane, and David Tetzlaff
For ordering information, click here.

To read more about these books, participate in an ongoing joke contest, surf on over to .
The author currently lives on Florida's Space Coast.

Shara signed with a New York Literary agency in December.

"Back" to Health

Looking After Your Back
- (Part 1 of 5)

According to the American Medical Association, Americans' spend $20-50 billion per year on health insurance, medical care, and lost wages. A large part of this is for back pain and injuries. For the under-45 age group, the most frequent cause of disability is back disorders.

Four out of five people will have back trouble at some time. Fortunately, only a small fraction of these are serious. However, once a back injury does occur, it is four times more likely to recur than if you had kept your back active to begin with.

Some health professionals tell patients that as they age they can expect more pain. But many experts say this is not true: Most people who have back pain do not have to live with it.

Mom was Right

"Stand up straight." Can't you just hear her? The number one cause of back pain comes down to POSTURE. Relief can be as simple as learning to line up our ear lobes with our shoulders.

Lifting, Sitting, Sleeping

Dan Kline, President of Clear Sky Products which specializes in injury prevention products says that the most important objective about back pain is to try to avoid it. Avoiding it is easy if you employ a little bit of common sense and preventive maintenance. Important subjects are posture, correct movement patterns (i.e. lifting and forceful motions), body weight, and exercise.

Be aware of body mechanics when lifting. If we are conscious of the natural, gentle curve in the neck and the one in the lower back, and keep these curves intact while lifting, we will not get an injured back. The purpose of a back support belt is only to remind the wearer to use proper posture when lifting. Some health professionals report that this kind of belt, in fact, can be detrimental. Just like when you wear a cast and muscles become weakened over time, the abdominal muscles will weaken if you rely on the belt.

Prolonged sitting is stressful. If you sit at a desk for hours, or have to drive a long distance on a trip, support your lower back with a cushion. You can buy one at any medical supply store. Or simply roll up a beach towel and place it in the chair behind your lower back.

A mattress should support a person properly, conforming to the curve in the low back. In a recent column I wrote about overcoming sleep problems, I relayed a simple test to determine if your mattress is too soft or too hard.


Ergonomic advisor Dr. Brad R. Lustick give us his bottom line, "The aches and pains that the majority of folks suffer can almost always be related to what they do everyday. This may be working postures or conditions, lifestyle and hygiene habits, driving in traffic or in seats that fail to fit an individual's body type, sleeping in bad postures or with improper support in from a pillow or a mattress.

"We need to learn to perform in a way consistent with low postural stress, one that adapts our environment to us, rather than us adapting to the environment. In other words, what we do repetitively, unless done with proper tools and in an ergonomic way causes the body to ultimately succumb to poor postures or unsatisfactory surroundings.

Dr. Brad sells many innovative ergonomic products online to help the back, as well as the entire body. His site, Back Be Nimble--One-stop Back Shop, may be found at

Next Week:

More information about the causes (and avoidance of) back pain.

Do you ever suffer from back pain? If so, I'd like to hear about your experiences, treatments and tips. E-mail me at

Back to the top / The New Sideroad / Go to the latest column

Issue # 14
Tuesday, Feb. 3, 1998


Humour and Health

Part 1 of 5 - "Think You're Funny?" (A look at laughter.)

Part 2 of 5 - What the Experts Say. . .

Part 3 of 5 - A Matter of Perspective

Part 4 of 5 - Humour as a Coping Mechanism

Part 5 of 5 - Wooten on Humour and Coping

Overcoming Sleep Disorders

Part 1 of 4 - how your mattress can make all the difference.

Part 2 of 4 - strategies to help you sleep.

Part 3 of 4 - more strategies to help you sleep.

Part 4 of 4 - what is a sleep log and how does it work?


Stats indicate that for those over the age of 50, one of every two women and one in eight men will have an osteoporosis-related fracture. Our sedentary lifestyle puts us at risk for this disease. Yet osteoporosis is not inevitable. Here's some information on this disease and how we can prevent it.

Part 1 of 4 - - details the likelihood of developing this disease, and its dangers and consequences.

Part 2 of 4 - - presents the risk factors of osteoporosis and some of our misconceptions about the disease.

Part 3 of 4 - - insights into diagnosis, and basic management techniques.

Part 4 of 4 - - new medical treatments to stop osteoporosis, and safety in the home of osteoporosis sufferers.

Next Week:

Part of the original Sideroad. Text © 1998, Shara Rendell-Smock. Posted Feb.3 , 1998. The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at

Shara's books can be ordered from her web site at