Back pain is a common condition experienced by many people. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 80% of adults in the United States will develop back pain. The consequences of back pain may lead to missing work, having trouble sleeping, being unable to participate in recreational activities, and generally experience a lower quality of life.
Back pain may start out as something that’s kind of a nuisance when you wake up in the morning or stand from sitting. Maybe it starts as a minor irritation that causes you to move slowly for the first few minutes of the day, and you may find yourself having a difficult time getting dressed without experiencing discomfort.
If you want to avoid all these and stay out of the doctor’s office, here are the daily habits you need to build to prevent back pain.
Improve your posture.
Maintaining good posture is not only important in presenting yourself to look more proper. It’s more of a health advice to protect the spine to keep it healthy and functioning properly. Many people have a habit of slouching, rounding their shoulders, and bending sideways while idle or working, which is no wonder why they suffer from back pain.
To prevent back pain, consider straightening your position to prevent unnecessary strain on your spine. Proper ergonomics at the workplace also helps ensure
Stand up and walk.
Too much sitting can be hard for the body. Many people live a sedentary lifestyle, and a large portion of their day is spent on a sitting position. Whether that time is at work behind a desk, in front of the TV, or behind the wheel of a vehicle, sitting for hours upon hours can lead to back pain.
Find short times in the middle of your day to stand up and walk. If you’re working in front of a computer all day, get up around every thirty minutes to an hour and move around. Go get something to drink, use the bathroom, and talk with your co-workers. Make it a habit to take at least a five-minute break between tasks to reduce pressure on your spine. Finding time to stand up and move your body can improve the health of your spine long term.
Avoid slouching when working on your desk.
Many office workers tend to slouch over the table, but it only strains the back even more. It’s important to keep a good posture when sitting and support your back. Keep your neck and spine curves aligned. Sit with your back flush against the chair, shoulders relaxed but pulled back, and make sure that your knees are slightly a little higher than your hips while you sit. Choose a quality, ergonomic chair with proper back support.
Exercise and stretch.
Exercise does so much good for the body and our back is no exception. Regular exercise can help keep a healthy weight, prevent aches and pains, and increase your flexibility. Exercise is a habit that can be done at least three times a week and even every day. Simple exercises like walking, doing simple stretches, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Regularly do exercises that strengthen the spine and back muscles. Do yoga moves and back stretching exercises. These things will prevent back pain from creeping in.
Work your core muscles.
In addition to walking, stretching and exercising, it pays to give special attention to your core muscles. Working on your core through abdominal strength training helps reduce the risk of muscle strains and spasms, among other back-related injuries. Try incorporating abdominal strength training exercises into your workout to develop a more flexible, stronger back.
Sleep in a proper position.
It can be difficult to pinpoint why you are having back pain especially if you have not suffered an injury or illness that may cause the discomfort. But most often, back pain is caused by normal wear and tear in the body, and it happens when you are sleeping poorly.
You can prevent back pain by simply changing your sleeping position. Sleeping on the back can flatten the spine, unless you provide additional support that maintains proper alignment of the head, neck and spine. If you really want to sleep on your back, keep the head aligned with the spine instead of tilting, and place a pillow under your knees to relieve spinal pressure. The best sleeping position to avoid back pain (and for people with back pain as well) is to sleep on the side with knees slightly bent with a pillow between the knees.
Get adequate sleep.
We are told to get seven to eight hours a day, for this is the adequate length of sleep needed for our body to rest. We know that long-term sleep deprivation can be deadly, for it increases the risks of developing diseases. But do you know that it has an effect on your back health too? Sleep is also crucial to growing and healing the muscles and improve muscle performance, which can help reduce back pain. Large amount of hormones are produced by the body while we are sleeping, and this includes growth hormones necessary for healthy cell production, as well as cortisol that supports muscle strength and reduces inflammation.
Sleep on a good mattress.
Sometimes, your mattress is to blame for back pain. If you consistently get up in the morning feeling something awful in your back and you’re trying to keep a good position when sleeping, then you have to replace your mattress. The mattress has a major influence in how you sleep and how you feel when you wake up in the morning. At first it may seem like an unnecessary expense especially if your matress is still pretty okay, but when you find one that is fit for you, you will feel that the change was worth every penny.
Increase vitamin D and calcium intake.
Strong bones help prevent osteoporosis, or low bone mass. Keep the bones in your spine strong and prevent back pain by taking vitamins such as calcium and vitamin D. Take daily supplements, or get it naturally by foods that have high calcium and vitamin D, such as:
- Leafy greens
- Beef liver
- Fatty fish
Also, basking in the morning sun can help the body synthesize vitamin D.
Eating a healthy diet overall can keep your bodily systems functioning well and prevent back pain from developing. If your nervous system and digestive systems are not functioning properly, your spine will be affected, which causes unnecessary stress on the back. Many people who complain of lower back pain also have irritated bowels. So, keep a healthy diet of lean meats, fresh fruits, vegetables, daily products, and whole grains to keep your digestive tract on track.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Your footwear choices play a major role in back alignment. The shoes you wear affects how you walk, stand, or even sit. And wearing the wrong shoes can make back pain worse. If you wear high heels constantly, you are throwing your body out of its natural positioning with each step, creating tensions in the spine, neck, and shoulders. Wear shoes that can support the weight of your whole body and reduce pressure to the spine, muscles, and joints of the body. Reduce or prevent back pain by wearing flat (or low-heeled) shoes with proper cushioning.
Avoid lifting heavy loads.
Improper or heavy lifting is a common cause of back pain, but this doesn’t only happen to movers, delivery personnel and people who lift heavy boxes or cargo on the job. Carrying a bulky laptop, suitcase, bag full of books, or a load of groceries can also cause a strain on your back.
It’s advisable to avoid lifting heavy weights by carrying less at a time, shifting the weight from shoulder to shoulder, or distributing the weight to both sides of the body. If you’re carrying heavy loads like bags of groceries or boxes of files, use a cart or a bag with wheels. Do not sling your backpack over one shoulder only – always use both straps. When regularly carrying infants or little children, avoid balancing the child on one hip or using one arm only.
We all know that smoking poses a serious health risk that can cause lung disorders. But do you know that smokers are also more likely to experience back pain? One reason for this is that cigarettes contain nicotine, which causes restricted blood flow in most parts of the body, including the spine. Smoking can cause the bones to dry out, crack, or rupture. It also reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, which reduces the flow of nourishment to the muscles and tendons in the back. A weak, unhealthy back is more vulnerable to accidental strains and pulls that cause back pain.
Nicotine also increases pro-inflammatory cytokines that amplifies pain. Once inflammation increase throughout the body, the level of muscle pain in the back increases as well. Putting out cigarettes once and for all can be healthy for you, and your back as well.