Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work in the US. It’s actually the second most common reason for doctor’s visits, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. Most cases of back pain are “mechanical” in nature- meaning they are not caused by a serious condition like a fracture, infection, or cancer. Numerous problems can lead to back pain and even seemingly small movements can trigger a painful episode. The following tips are designed help you live a healthy lifestyle, free from back pain.
1. Maintain an ideal weight and healthy diet. Overweight people tend to experience more back pain than people of healthy weight. Those with extra pounds around the midsection are especially vulnerable to back pain as the extra weight pulls the pelvis forward, placing strain on the lower back. The bones and muscles of your spine also need good nutrition and vitamins to stay healthy and support your body.
2. Stay active. Avoid prolonged periods of sitting or bed rest. Many people with back pain think they should avoid exercise until their pain goes away, but the reality is, inactivity can worsen the pain. Numerous studies have shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time is detrimental to your overall health.
3. Warm up properly before exercise or activity. Often times, people don’t consider certain chores to be exercise, but most are physically demanding on your body and deserve a warm-up. Activities such as snow shoveling and gardening are especially vigorous workouts for both your heart and muscles. Make sure you don’t go into a chore full-force without warming up your muscles a bit.
4. Wear properly-fitting shoes. Poorly-fitting shoes will not only hurt your feet, but are also detrimental to your spine and joints. Get fitted at a specialty shoe store when choosing new shoes. Stay away from high heels, flip flops, and slip-on shoes – all throw off your gait & posture and are known contributors to back pain.
5. Lift objects with your knees. When lifting, keep the object close to your body and do not twist. This also applies when lifting children and heavy backpacks.
6. Correct your sleep posture. Sleep on your side or your back, but avoid sleeping on your stomach. Keep a pillow between your legs if you choose to sleep on your side or tuck the pillow under your knees if you’re on your back. Use only one pillow under your neck to keep your spine in alignment.
7. Correct your sitting posture. Always sit with your knees at or just below the level of your hips. Don’t cross your legs and keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest. Use a lumbar support cushion to support your lower back.
8. Correct your standing posture. Keep your knees slightly bent. Bear most of your weight on the balls of your feet and keep your feet shoulder width apart. Stand straight with your shoulders pulled back and tighten in your stomach. Keep your head level. Your earlobes should be directly above your shoulders.
9. Set up an ergonomic workstation for your work office or home office. Your computer monitor should be directly in front of you, positioned to avoid leaning in or straining. Position your keyboard tray so that you can relax your shoulders, bend your elbows at 90 degrees and reach your mouse or keyboard without bending your wrist. Maintain proper posture while sitting (see #7). Consider using a headset instead of a traditional phone, to avoid cradling the phone and placing strain on the neck.
10. Refrain from smoking. Smokers are at a higher risk for developing back pain.
Though there are many factors that can cause back pain, prevention is possible with a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle. If you are experiencing back pain, conservative care, like the type provided in this office, can help. Call us today to schedule your appointment.