7 Habits That Can Save Your Back
Back pain is one of the top causes of doctor visits, second only to the common cold. In face, an overwhelming 8 out of 10 people have been affected by back pain at some point in their lives. If you’ve ever dealt with back pain, you know how the impact it has on your daily life. Simple movements become difficult and the pain wears you down emotionally and physically.
Unfortunately, what you may not realize is that you’re likely doing things right now that will one day cause back pain. Seemingly harmless everyday behaviors place extra pressure on the back muscles and spine. Over time, this stress can develop into chronic back pain.
However, you don’t have to accept back pain lying down. By avoiding seven painful habits today, you can help prevent future back pain tomorrow.
Habit 1: Sitting Too Much
Maybe your job requires you to sit for long periods and then you come home and sit on the couch all evening. Did you know that sitting places almost twice as much pressure on your spine compared to standing? A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributor to back pain. Without adequate exercise, you gain weight (which is bad for your back), your back muscles weaken, and your joints age faster. Take frequent breaks to move around during the day, and when you have to sit, maintain good posture.
Habit 2: Poor Posture
Whether sitting or standing, poor posture is a major cause of back pain. Slouching and slumping both put stress on your spine. When standing, slightly bend your knees and separate your feet. Keep you head held high. While sitting, sit up straight at a 90-degree angle with your hips higher than your knees.
Habit 3: Lack of Exercise
Strong back and abdominal muscles are one way to prevent back problems. Regular strength training, cardio, and flexibility exercises build strong muscles, which improve your posture, support your spine, and stabilize your back. Exercise also improves circulation, reduces inflammation, and helps manage stress, all of which help protect your back from harm. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Don’t let back pain stop you from exercising. Gentle exercises are good for treating back pain.
Habit 4: Lifting Incorrectly
On the job or around the house, lifting heavy objects with incorrect form puts your back at risk for injury. Use the strength of your legs rather than your back to lift things. Stand close to the object, squat down, and lift straight up. Hold the weight against your body and keep your back straight. Avoid twisting or bending while holding a heavy object. And when lifting something exceptionally heavy, ask for help.
Habit 5: Unmanaged Stress
Chronic, unmanaged stress can lead to back pain. Muscle tension in your neck, shoulders, and back is common when you’re under stress. When stress is knocking you down, set aside time to relax. Perform deep-breathing exercises, get a back massage, or take a hot bath to increase blood flow and relieve pent up tension.
Habit 6: Smoking
In addition to your lungs, nicotine takes a toll on your back. Restricting blood flow, promoting disc degeneration, and slowing calcium absorption for new bone growth, smoking cigarettes is one of the worst habits for your back and entire body. Kick the habit and your back will thank you.
People who are overweight or obese are much more likely to deal with back pain. Carrying around extra weight, especially around your middle, places extra strain on your entire body, including your back. Make changes in your diet and exercise patterns to lose weight and you’ll notice an improvement in the health of your back for the rest of your life.