The spine is one of the most significant structures in your body. It possesses incredible strength and flexibility, but it is also susceptible to injury and pain. From pinched nerves and slipped discs to strained muscles and spinal deformities, there are numerous issues that can cause back pain.
Educate yourself on common back-pain triggers and start these six prevention strategies to be armed and ready to combat your back pain.
What causes back pain?
If you are currently suffering from back pain, you are not alone. Thirty-one million Americans are affected by back pain, and 80 percent of the population is predicted to have a back problem at some time in their lives, according to the American Chiropractic Association.
Cmmon causes of back pain can be hard to pinpoint because of the range and scope of all your back does and includes. The most common causes of back pain are accidents, muscle strains and sports injuries according to WebMD. Sound familiar? Wondering what you can do about it? Read on.
Exercise your core
Your core area controls most of your body’s movements. Core muscles in your back, sides and abs hold your body upright and support you when walking, lifting and reaching. It comes as no surprise then that a strong core makes for a strong back. By incorporating regular core-strengthening exercises, you can help protect your spine from harm.
The types of exercises you do to strengthen your core will depend on your physical capabilities. Counsel with your medical provider to determine which exercises are best for you.
If you aren’t suffering from chronic back pain, adding daily sit-ups and planks to your exercise routine can strengthen your core and back. If your back pain limits your ability, something simple such as sitting on an exercise ball for 20 minutes per day is a good way to engage your core.
Start your day with a stretch
When it comes to battling back pain, stretching is as important as exercising. Tight muscles pull your vertebrae out of alignment generating tension that then leads to pain. Make sure and stretch your hamstrings.
By loosening your hamstrings — the muscles that run along the back of your thighs — you can decrease pressure on your pelvis and enjoy relief across your lower back.
To do this hamstring stretch, start by lying on your back and bending your knees. Straighten one leg and aim your foot at the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and then repeat the stretch with the opposite leg. As you build strength and flexibility, strive to deepen the stretch and hold it for 20 to 30 seconds.
Check your posture
The way you sit, stand, and walk has a significant impact on the health of your spine. Poor posture leads to neck, shoulder and back pain. Poor posture decreases your flexibility, joint mobility and balance.
What is good posture? Good posture has the following eight characteristics according to Harvard Health:
- Chin parallel to the floor
- Shoulders even (roll your shoulders up, back and down to help achieve this)
- Neutral spine (no flexing or arching to overemphasize the curve in your lower back)
- Arms at your sides with elbows straight and even
- Abdominal muscles braced
- Hips even
- Knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Body weight distributed evenly on both feet
Adopting these eight practices will help you improve your posture and protect and prevent back pain. Other ideas? Upgrade to an ergonomic office chair, stand without slouching and sleep with a supportive pillow. The results of these posture-improving efforts will be far-reaching.
Practice proper lifting technique
Whether you suffer from chronic back pain or not, lifting heavy items incorrectly can produce an acute back injury. Proper lifting technique requires bending at the knees, keeping your back straight and not twisting your torso. Proper lifting will protect your back from compressing the spinal discs and straining your lower back.
Strive for a healthy diet and weight
If you have a poor diet, your spine is often among the first structures in your body to experience ill effects. Nutrition imbalance in spinal discs can lead to the onset of degenerative disease, reports the BBC. Eating for a healthy spine means increasing your intake of calcium, magnesium, vitamins, protein and iron. It also means drinking more water and minimizing your alcohol intake.
Extra weight can result in lower back pain because it puts added pressure and hardship on your joints. Your medical provider can advise you on a healthy weight range for your body type and age.
Check your mattress
How is your mattress currently supporting you? Typically, a medium-firm mattress is recommended to help minimize any curve in your spine. However, when it comes to preventing or treating chronic back pain, the best mattress for you may not be the best mattress for someone else. Personal preference should be your guide, and choose what feels most comfortable, reports WebMD.
Making a few lifestyle changes can go a long way toward relieving back pain, but you might need a little extra help along the way. Consider a visit to one of MountainStar Healthcare’s Comprehensive Spine Centers. MountainStar Healthcare offers natural, customized treatment options to keep your back supporting you for years to come.