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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

How to Avoid Spraining Your Back

- (Part 2 of 5)

Like cardiovascular problems, which develop slowly over time, so do spinal pain and problems. As you sit in front of your computer, faulty body mechanics occur. We are far more likely to ignore back pain and "carry on" than we are, for instance, if we have a sprained ankle. When you do develop spinal pain, it is the body's way of saying: "I am unable to cope any longer."

Dr. Don Fitz-Ritson, Clinical Director at the Posture Research Institute, has been treating backs and necks for 19 years. He has found that
over 80% of people with back conditions would improve if the back muscles were exposed to a variety of activity and movement.

Common Ligament Stretching Situations

Dr. Don explains the following five situations that contribute to a sprained back:

The one-leg stance. We often place all our weight on one leg when we have to stand up for long periods. Usually, we do this on the same leg, out of habit. Two-thirds of our body weight then stretches the ligaments on one side of the pelvis, causing spinal distortion and postural misalignment. Eventually these ligaments may become as severely distorted as from a serious, sudden injury to the back.

Extended periods of standing. Most people find it tiring to remain standing for any length of time. Waiting in lines, shopping, a cocktail party or many work-situations can require standing in place. When this happens, the muscles that hold us erect soon tire and we slump into poor posture. Now our entire weight is pulling against ligaments, especially those in the pelvis and lower back. The years take their toll on these ligaments. They become stretched and weakened so that they cannot properly control our joints with the tight support our bodies require. It can become uncomfortable, even painful, from the strain of standing erect.

Work Strain. Many occupations or work situations require lifting, bending or twisting, keeping the back under constant or repeated strain. Anyone from a farmer to a ballet dancer can develop over-stretched ligaments from these occupational hazards. When over-stretched ligaments no longer hold the back joints in proper position, a serious back-sprain condition results. Again we have spinal curvature, poor posture, and pain.

The Games We Play. Because our backs are vulnerable to strain, good healthy exercise that is keeping us fit and trim can be damaging to back joints. Just think of the exaggerated moves required in racquet sports, bowling, golf, football, skiing and other activities. We like to know that we are strengthening our muscles and making our bodies strong. But there is no way to make ligaments stronger. They can only stretch and weaken if we don't protect them when engaging in sports.

Obesity. Every extra pound we carry puts added strain on our backs. This is especially true of the large stomach. This weight tips the pelvis forward and strains the back by forcing the lower vertebrae into an unnatural position.

To protect your back, try to be conscious of these potential habits, and act accordingly.

Dr. Don sells the BackMagic Belt. You may read research about the product at

Next Week:

Medical and chiropractic treatments

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 # 15
Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1998


"Back" to Health

Part 1 of 5- Looking After Your Back

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.10 , 1998. The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at

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