According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, back pain will affect about 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lives. Back pain can stem from a number of issues, but it most often results from repeated behaviors that stress the muscles and spine. You can take control of your back pain by changing a few bad habits.
Nobody likes the “E” word, but avoiding the gym could be causing your back pain. Core strengthening exercises give your back muscles the stability that they need to support your spine. Pilates is a great way to strengthen your core, and has shown results in improving lower back pain. Cardio exercises, such as walking, biking, swimming, or running, are also recommended for relieving back pain. Improving your flexibility, through yoga or stretching, will aid in back pain relief as well.
Poor posture adds stress to your spine and strains the muscles in your back. In fact, maintaining bad posture can change the anatomy of your spine, resulting in back pain. Keep your shoulders aligned with your ears, and make sure that you keep things at eye level. This is especially important when using your smartphone or computer. Sitting with your hips a little higher than your knees will help maintain good posture. You can also take the strain off of your lower back by standing with your knees slightly bent and placing one foot in front of the other.
A lot of back injuries are the result of improper form while lifting heavy objects. Be sure to bend with your knees, not your back, and use your legs to lift the object. Keep the weight close to your body, with your head down and back straight.
Taking It Easy
Back pain can be immobilizing, but it’s imperative that you don’t use bedrest as a way to cope with the pain. It’s important to know your limits, but limiting activity can actually make things worse. Staying active increases blood flow, which decreases inflammation and eases muscle tension.
Now is a great time to be a quitter. Smoking decreases blood circulation. The restricted flow of blood can increase the rate of degeneration to the disks that cushion your spine. Smoking also inhibits calcium absorption, which prevents new bone growth. This gives smokers a higher risk for developing osteoporosis.