8 Habits that Cause Back Pain
Back pain sends more patients to doctors than any condition other than the common cold. In fact, it’s the fifth most common reason for hospitalizations and third most common cause of surgery.
There are many possible causes of back pain, which means there are also many non-invasive solutions. Back pain is rarely one catastrophic event, but several situations combining to create pain and it turns out that some seemingly insignificant everyday habits can take a big toll on your back over time. Below is a list of eight of the most common causes of back pain.
1. Not Moving
The failure to perform any exercise may lead to poor posture and increased low back pain. Good exercises for back pain prevention include Pilates or other core strengthening activities that can increase stability in the back muscles. Cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, walking, and bicycling are also recommended, along with movements that improve flexibility.
2. Having Poor Posture
Poor posture can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. The stress of poor posture can actually change the functional characteristics of the spine. To avoid back injuries, try to stand with your knees slightly bent, and place one foot forward to take pressure off the lower back and reduce back strain. When sitting, it is advised to sit with your hips slightly higher than your knees.
3. Lifting Incorrectly
Often back injuries occur when we try to lift heavy objects and do so incorrectly. Bend your knees and use the power of your legs, keeping the weight close to the body; keep your head down and back straight, and be sure to avoid twisting.
4. Being Overweight
Keep your weight under control for back pain prevention. You’re more likely to suffer from low back pain if you are overweight or obese, or quickly gain a significant amount of weight. Being overweight, especially in the mid-section, shifts your entire center of gravity forward and puts additional stress on your back muscles. Try to stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight to avoid experiencing unnecessary back pain. Exercise and a healthy diet can help move you toward this goal.
Nicotine restricts blood flow to the disks that moderate your vertebrae and increases the rate of degeneration. The loss of cushioning can cause back pain. Cigarette smoking also reduces calcium absorption and prevents new bone growth, leaving smokers with an increased risk for osteoporosis (weak, fragile bones) and slower healing after bone fractures, which can cause back pain. Additionally, coughing from heavy smoking can cause back pain.
6. Not Getting Enough Calcium & Vitamin D
Certain nutrients are essential for bone strength. If you don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D in your daily diet (your body also synthesizes vitamin D in response to sun exposure), discuss the possibility of supplements with your doctor.
7. Sleeping On an Old Mattress
Can’t remember the last time you replaced it? Your back may be in trouble. A good mattress lasts 9 to 10 years, but consider replacing yours every 5 to 7 years if you don’t sleep well or your back beats. A study found that most people who switched to new bedding after 5 years slept significantly better and had less back pain.
8. High Heels
Those high heels may be great for your self-image, but they could be doing a number on your back. High heels pitch you forward onto your toes, and to pay off you have to lean backwards, which puts stress on the lower back. Wearing heels occasionally– for a night on the town–is probably okay, but if you wear them frequently, or you’re overweight (or both), you could be asking for back trouble. As the numbers of hours spend in shoes increases, it throws off body mechanics and way of walking.
When you’re in the throes of back pain or simply want to ward it off, avoiding these habits will help protect and strengthen your back and your entire body.