Preventing back pain
So much of prevention requires behavioral changes in how we move about our day-to-day lives. The basics of preventing back pain can be summed up in two words: move well!
Most back pain causes and symptoms stem from not moving well. Moving well breaks down into four broad principles: lifting well, standing well, sitting well, and sleeping well.
Lift as little as possible. But when you must, lift with your legs, not from your back. Do this by bending your knees and squatting to pick an item up from the floor, rather than bending at your waist.
When you are standing, keep your feet hip-width apart to give yourself a solid base for your body weight. Keep your hips square, rather than popping a hip to one side or the other. Remind yourself to roll your shoulders back to get rid of a hunch. You may want to explore the option of a back brace or device to remind you not to hunch.
Good posture when you are standing and when you are sitting will help prevent both lower back pain and upper back pain. Sure, it’s tempting to hunch over to see your computer/phone/tablet screen, but avoid it. Raise your screens up to eye level so that you don’t have to compromise your posture in order to see them. Keeping your legs uncrossed can also create a solid base to keep your spine in alignment.
Sleeping on a supportive mattress can make a world of difference when it comes to back pain. If you’re putting in effort during the day to maintain good posture, there’s no sense in sleeping on a mattress that keeps your spine sagging and bending every which way for the hours you’re asleep. Mattress stores have helpful guides on how to choose a mattress that is best suited to you based on your sleep style. For instance, your sleeping position–whether you like to lie on your side, back, or stomach makes a difference. Here, the type of pillow you use can also have an outsized impact on how your back and neck feel in the morning.
Simple, right? But wait. There’s more. In addition to the overarching guide above, there are a number of tips to stave off back pain. But don’t worry. These next back pain prevention tips are fairly straightforward, as well. In order to prevent back pain as well as get some back pain relief:
- Maintain a healthy weight
Extra kilograms put a strain on your posture, which strains your back muscles. Excess weight is also a culprit in sciatica pain. Maintaining a healthy weight may ease your pain.
- Stay strong
Strengthen your muscles – especially your core muscles in your abdomen and back – can go far in preventing back pain.
- Stay flexible
Stretching can keep your back muscles loose and warm, so they’re less prone to pulls and injuries. Flexibility in your hips, for instance, can keep your pelvis properly aligned to improve posture and prevent pain.8 Look into stretches and exercises for back pain that target upper back pain or lower back pain specifically. That way, you can put together a targeted stretching routine, tailored to your needs.
- Quit smoking
In addition to its other negative health effects, smoking is a risk factor for back pain.9 In fact, studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of back pain among people who have been exposed to cigarette smoke.10 We know that quitting can be hard.11 Consider reaching out to a healthcare professional for help.
- Wear proper footwear
Support starts from having a proper base. The shoes you wear have a big impact on your back. Wear shoes that provide good support. Avoid wearing high-heels for any length of time.
Your emotional well-being can impact back pain.12 Stress, anxiety, and even depression, can make your back tense up. So, go ahead. Kick back, put your feet up, and practice some self-care.