12 Tips for Preventing Back Pain

Back pain plagues most people at some point in their lives. You can avoid it, however, with some simple changes to your daily habits. Consider the way you carry yourself, your fashion choices, what you eat, and your tech habits -- all can contribute to back pain.

Follow these 12 tips to keep your back healthy and prevent pain.

Maintain a healthy weight

If you’re at a healthy weight, you’re less likely to suffer from back pain. Extra pounds put stress on the joints of the vertebrae and shift your center of gravity, so your back works harder every day. A sensible diet with reasonable portion sizes is key to helping you maintain a healthy weight. Focus on lean proteins, fresh produce, whole grains, and sensible amounts of healthy fats. Minimize your intake of processed and fast foods.

Stretch and strengthen

A few daily moves support a healthy, mobile back. Each morning, for example, get on all fours and round and sink your spine -- in yoga, it’s known as cow and cat poses -- for about 10 rounds. Stand tall and hold a side bend right and left for 10-20 seconds. Lie on your abdomen on a mat or clean carpet and extend your legs behind you, feet pressing into the floor and arms alongside your hips. Gently lift your face, chest, and arms in a cobra, pausing for just a few counts. Repeat 10-12 times each day.

Sit and stand with good posture

Watch your posture when you’re standing and sitting. If you sit a lot at a desk, choose a chair that ergonomically designed to support a straight back. When you stand, focus on keeping your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. Be conscious of habits, such as shifting your weight all onto one leg or hunching from the neck or hips.

Get a good mattress

Plush, soft mattresses fail to support your back as you sleep. Choose one that offers medium to firm support for quality back support.

Sleep on your side

Once you’ve chosen the right mattress, train yourself to sleep on your side. Or sleep on your belly, but put a pillow under your lower abdomen to take stress off your back. Choose a supportive pillow, too. Sleeping on your back can aggravate back pain, as can cushy pillows that push your neck out of alignment.

Leave the heavy lifting to the experts

Avoid lifting heavy objects, especially if you’re not regularly exercising. If you must lift, use good form. Bend your knees and maintain a straight back as you pick up or push the object. You want your legs to bear most of the work, not your spine.

Watch tech neck

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops put you in a position of a constantly rounded neck and upper back. This can lead to serious postural abnormalities over time as well as very real aches and pains. When you do use these devices, be conscious of how you sit. Stay upright and avoid spending long hours in front of them.

Don’t smoke

Smoking carries numerous health risks, even when it comes to your spine. Smoking exacerbates existing back pain, probably because it narrows blood vessels, which prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching the spine. You experience slower healing times and are more susceptible to injury as a result.

Wear supportive shoes

High heels put your hips and ankles into awkward positions that cause a shift in your center of gravity. Unsupportive flats, even men’s suit flats, also provide little cushioning for your joints – including those in your spine. Do your back a favor and get fit for shoes that provide some support for your gait.

Pick a smart bag

A heavy backpack or purse slung over one arm throws off your balance and can lead to back pain. Even an overstuffed wallet tucked into a back pocket can cause back pain by forcing you to sit in an unusual position. Tuck just what you need into a pocket, or go for a messenger bag that slings across your body for better back health.

Wear loose clothes

Skinny jeans and other super tight clothing that restricts breathing and movement contribute to back pain. You can’t move through a full range of motion and may hold your posture in a way that isn’t conducive to good back health. If your breathing is restricted by tight clothes, your back also suffers.

Exercise

Regular exercise affords a number of benefits, including improved heart and respiratory health. It also strengthens your muscles and bones, so you’re less vulnerable to back injury and pain. Get the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise weekly and aim for at least two resistance-training sessions a week that train all the major muscle groups -- including your back, chest, shoulders, arms, hips, abs, and legs.

Back pain is not an inevitability. You can prevent it with simple lifestyle habits. If, however, you do suffer – contact us at Joyce Family Chiropractic and Wellness for relief.


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