Back pain is a common ailment and affects the lives of millions of people worldwide. Many of its sufferers are dependent on painkillers but these can become addictive and may have harmful side effects if used in the long term. The day to day suffering of many people is tremendous so any way we can assist in preventing back pain must be worthwhile considering. One way back pain can often be prevented is by practicing some good, back-friendly habits. Here are some tips which will help you keep your back strong and supple so you can ease your pain now and hopefully avoid back pain later in life.
Tips for Preventing Back Pain
Practice Good Posture
The way you stand, sit and lie down affects your back in various ways, so making an effort to maintain good posture is a helpful way to prevent back pain. Here are some tips that will help you:
- Stand upright with your head facing forward but not jutting forward. Keep your back and legs straight, and balance your weight evenly on both feet.
- Sit upright with support in the small of your back. Your knees and hips should be level, and your feet should be flat on the floor. Try to make sure you get up at least once every half an hour and walk around for a few seconds to take some stress off your back.
- Ideally you should sleep on a mattress which is firm enough to support your body while supporting the weight of your shoulders and buttocks, keeping your spine straight. Your head should be supported with a pillow but your neck shouldn’t be forced up at a steep angle.
Lift and Handle Objects Correctly
One of the most common causes of back pain is lifting or handling heavy objects incorrectly. Using the right method to lift and carry is important if you want to protect your back from damage. You should do the following:
- Think before you lift. Assess whether the object is something you can easily lift alone or whether it’s something you may need help with.
- Before lifting, place your feet apart, with one leg slightly forward to maintain balance. Bend your back, knees and hips slightly to allow your legs to take the strain. Do not stoop, squat or straighten your legs before lifting.
- If you have to move heavy objects across the floor, it’s better to push rather than pull.
- When carrying shopping bags or luggage, try to distribute the weight evenly on both sides of your body.
You may know that exercise can be a good way to reduce back pain, but did you know it can help to prevent it too? Activities such as walking and swimming strengthen the muscles that support your back, while yoga and pilates improve both the strength and flexibility of those back muscles. These simple movements can also play a helpful role:
- Back extensions: Lie on your stomach and prop yourself on your elbows. Arch your back up by pushing down on your hands. Hold for five seconds then return to the starting position. Repeat eight to ten times.
- Knee rolls: Lie on your back with bent knees. Keeping your knees bent and together, roll them to one side while keeping both shoulders on the floor. Hold the stretch for one deep breath then return to the starting position. Repeat eight to ten times, alternating sides.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Sometimes being overweight or obese can cause back pain. Excess upper body weight can put strain on the lower back, increasing your risk of back pain over time. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, so you should always try to eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly.
Other Ways of Preventing Back Pain
- If you smoke, try to give up. Smokers are vulnerable to back pain as the flow of blood to spinal discs is restricted.
- Try changing your sleeping position. Sleeping on your side can help ease the pain in your lower back.
- Avoid high heeled shoes. High heels can shift your centre of gravity putting more strain on your back. You don’t need to give up wearing your heels, just carry an additional pair of low heeled shoes to change into.
- Think about the type of bag you are carrying and how you carry it. Take out unnecessary weight and switch the bag from one side of your body to the other to avoid putting all the stress on one side for too long.
Generally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the key to preventing back pain. If you make the effort to look after your back and the muscles that support it, you may be able to avoid experiencing long-term aches and pains in that area.
For additional information why not click on the links at the foot of this article and read more about Exercises for Lower Back Pain and Tips for Dealing with Chronic Pain.
You may also like to visit the website of Spine-Health for additional information.
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