Back pain can be the result of trauma, such as a fall or a car accident. Some people even suffer from chronic back pain. But most often back pain is the result of an everyday activity done incorrectly — activities as common as twisting to reach or lift an object, bending over to vacuum, and carrying shopping bags. Other common causes include sedentary lifestyles and sitting too frequently, which a group of chiropractors in the UK recently concluded is the main cause for an increase in back pain in young people. The good news is that back pain prevention isn't all that difficult, often requiring just a few adjustments that will soon become second nature.
Here are six simple and effective tips for preventing back pain:
Exercise. One of the most important things you can do for back pain prevention is to get up and get moving. Why does exercise prevent back pain? Muscles are meant to move. If you aren't in good shape, you're more likely to hurt your back and feel pain when you do even simple movements.
Eat right. If you maintain good eating habits, you not only will maintain a healthy weight, but you also will not put unnecessary stress on your body.
Sleep sideways. You don't want to sleep flat on your back. The best position for sleeping is on your side. If you must sleep on your stomach, put a pillow under your lower abdomen to help take stress off your back. Having a supportive mattress and pillow for your head are vital as well.
Maintain proper posture. People slouch over their computers and their telephones when they're texting, and they don't realize the damage they're doing to their backs and the pain they could be causing. Be sure to work at an ergonomically correct workstation, both at the office and at home, and break up long periods in front of the computer with stretching exercises. If you practice good posture, you will maintain the natural curves of your back and help keep it strong.
Reduce stress. You probably don't realize how much stress can impact your back health. Stress causes you to tense your muscles, and constant tension of this kind can cause back pain. Stress reduction activities can include yoga, meditation, biofeedback, deep breathing, tai chi and guided imagery.
Quit smoking. It's well known that smoking raises your risk for heart disease and cancer, including lung and colon cancers, but most people don't realize that smoking also can be a cause of persistent back pain. Research also shows smoking can make existing back pain worse. It's not entirely clear how smoking affects back health, but one possibility is that it narrows blood vessels. Narrowed blood vessels result in less oxygen and nutrients reaching the spine and, in turn, it becomes more susceptible to injury and slower to heal.