Back painAbout 80 percent of people complain about back pain at some point in their life. And, the main reason for back pain is ignorance. If you go through evolution, it took five and a half million years for humans to straighten their spine and stand upright yet till today we lack the understanding using our spine properly.

Back muscles are the weakest of all groups of muscles but they play a very important role in every physical activity we perform. So, you have to be conscious about what activity can hurt your back and cause a problem.

1. Maintain a good posture: The starting point of every problem related to the back is bad posture. Slouching and walking, hunching when you sit, contracting the spine inwards, twisting the upper body in an awkward position, etc are all signs of developing a back pain. Here’s more information on bad postures that can affect your health.

Be aware of your posture, stand upright when you walk, keep you back rested when you sit, avoid slouching and you will never have a back problem. If you have a habit of slouching, tell you friends, family members or colleagues to remind you about it.

2. Lose some weight: The fact is that our spine has not developed to an extent that we can bear extra weight without experiencing strain. So, if you are obese or overweight, losing weight is a must. You can either join a gym or do aerobic exercises at home or join a zumba class, but starting shedding those extra pounds today. If you want something more effective, here are 12 yoga poses that can help you in weight loss. 

3. Stretching and developing a strong core: Stretching you back muscles is a good way to prevent back pain. Especially, people who sit in front of the  computer for hours together should stretch a bit during their mini-breaks at work.

The muscles around your abdomen are called core muscles (abs). These muscles are the main support of your spine. If your core is strong then your back will never cause any problem at all. There are various ways to develop core muscles. You can check out this video for developing core muscles.

4. Lift carefully: Seriously, if you know how to lift things properly, you can prevent back pain 90 percent of the times. Never bend jerkily to lift anything. Ensure that your feet are apart about the width of your shoulder, bend both the knees and then lift things. If you are lifting something heavy, tuck your tummy in (just as you do while zipping a tight pair of jeans) before you lift it.

5. Avoid stretching to reach out for things: People often go out of their comfort zone and stretch in an awkward position to reach out for things like a pen, file or telephone receiver. Stop being lazy! Getting up and walking a few steps to grab what you want is not going to take ages. It will instead prevent you from hurting your back.

6. Avoid wearing high heels: Women who wear stilettos or boxy high heeled uncomfortable shoes, sandals regularly are bound to get lower back pain. According to body mechanics and physics, when you stand barefoot, you are perpendicular to the floor. When you wear high heels, your body should ideally tilt in the forward direction. But you can’t walk like that. So your body is forced to make several adjustments in the spine, knee and hip joints, and head in order to make you walk straight. The higher your heel, the more pressure is exerted on your back—the earlier you will experience back pain. Wearing comfortable flat shoes or sport shoes is the best way to prevent back pain in women. Read more about how high heels are ruining your feet.

7. Avoid excessive weight lifting: If women make poor choices for their back by wearing high heels, men are no smarter. Lifting too much of heavy weights in the gym is not going to bulge out your arms in a day. It will happen gradually. So, understand the limitations of your body and respect it.

8. Quit smoking: This goes for both men and women. Smoking is the most effective and probably the fastest way to damage your spine. Studies have shown that spinal discs get degenerated very quickly in smokers than in non-smokes. Moreover, people who smoke have a poor healing capacity. So, in case you smoke and undergo a spine surgery, it will take much longer for you to recover. Here are more reasons for you to quit smoking.

9. Beware of risks while driving or riding: If you have ever taken a riskshaw to reach your destination, you know exactly what ‘risks while riding’ means. Thanks to the innumerable pot holes and construction sites everywhere, travelling is as good as inviting back pain. But, you yourself can minimize the risk to a great extent. While taking a bumpy ride in a rickshaw, tighten your core muscles to reduce strain on the back. Whenever you’re driving, especially bike, slow down before a speed breaker. Wear a seat belt while driving a car.

10. Good sleeping posture: Several studies have been carried out to identify the best sleeping posture. A health spine alignment such that there is minimal strain on muscles, ligament and tendons is extremely important to prevent back pain.

The starfish position is the best sleeping posture that can keep you away from back pain. In a starfish position, you lie down on your back keeping your arms and legs a bit apart. Ensure your pillow is not too high.

Sleeping on the sides is also a good posture, unless you contract yourself like a fetus. If you want to sleep on the sides, ensure your legs are straight in alignment with your spine. Read more about causes, diagnosis and treatment of slipped disc.

Read more about why you shouldn’t ignore lower back pain, diagnosis and tests for back pain and back pain-treatment and surgeries.

References:

  • Esther Gokhale, 8 steps to a pain free back
  • David Borenstein, Heal your back
  • Gregory Bryant, Avoid back pain
  • Chronic back pain (http://www.healthcentral.com/) 

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  • Chris

    HI agree with Sarah regarding stretching. I find that stretching daily helps my back. I found this article really helpful

    http://www.backpaininfo.co/back-pain-prevention/stretching-effectively-help-back-pain/

  • Shraddha

    Hi Sarah. Since you’re a physiotherapist, I would like to clarify whether stretching in a particular way is important. I feel it is because often while reaching out people tend to twist really bad, which causes pain.