When we think of back pain, we often associate it as just another part of getting older. While age may contribute to someone being more at-risk for back pain, there are plenty of ways that we can prevent back pain from interfering with our lives.
At Midwest Regenerative Health and Pain Clinic, we often treat patients for chronic back and neck pain, as well as in other areas of the body. However, our team wants to share tips for preventing back pain and injury altogether.
Who Is At-Risk for Back Pain?
Most of us will deal with back pain at some point in our lives, whether it is because we slept or sat in a weird position, threw our backs out while doing yard work, or any of the other many causes of back pain. In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons that people make an appointment to see a doctor. Here are a few factors that contribute to the likelihood that you will experience back pain:
- Poor posture
- Lack of physical activity
- Health problems like arthritis or cancer
While all of these factors put people more at-risk for developing back problems, there are ways to prevent pain from occurring. After all, preventing back pain is easier than treating it, so here are some ways that you can prevent back pain.
Tips for Preventing Back Pain
Maintaining proper posture helps to keep the spine in the correct position. How you sit, stand, and lie down all have a significant impact on your spine. Unfortunately, more and more, we see people slumped over their smartphones or hunched over their laptops working at a desk for eight or more hours a day. Correcting your posture is not necessarily an easy fix but rather a slow process that involves you actively thinking about how your body is positioned. Here are some tips for correcting posture:
- When you are standing, it is important to keep your back straight and your head forward. Try to balance your weight evenly on both feet with straight legs.
- When sitting, your knees and hips should be level with your feet flat on the floor. If your lower back needs extra support, use a cushion or rolled-up towel. At work, you should keep your forearms horizontal on the desk with your elbows at right angles.
- The lower back needs proper support when you are driving. By correctly positioning the side and rear-view mirrors, you can avoid twisting around in your seat. When driving long distances, it is also important to take regular breaks so that you can stretch out your legs and back.
Don’t forget that prolonged sitting can cause back pain, especially for people who keep their wallet or phone in a back pocket of their jeans while they are sitting. If your work requires you to be at a desk for long periods, take breaks to walk around and stretch your legs. On the other hand, if you are on your feet for a prolonged amount of time, be sure to stretch your back and legs before going to bed.
2. Proper Lifting Techniques
Poor lifting techniques can wreak havoc on your back. You should never use your back to lift things. Instead, use your legs. To properly lift objects, you should keep your back straight, and bend at the knees or hips. If something is too heavy for you to safely lift it on your own, you should get help. Keep this in mind when working out, moving heavy boxes, or simply picking up something that you drop.
3. Maintain Healthy Weight
Being overweight puts more pressure on the spine, as well as many other joints in the body. Staying at a healthy weight can prevent back pain from occurring while losing weight can alleviate back pain. Maintaining a healthy weight does not require strict diets or intense exercise. Moderate exercise and a balanced diet should allow you to sustain a healthy weight and prevent back pain at the same time.
4. Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D help strengthen our bones and joints, including our spine. Without these vital nutrients, we are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis as we age. Osteoporosis occurs when your bones become weaker over time, and as spinal bones weaken, they are more prone to fractures, which can cause a lot of pain. Combat osteoporosis by making sure that you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. If you are worried that you are not getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist. They may suggest that you take supplements to ensure you are meeting the suggested daily intake.
5. Regular Exercise
Physical activity is vital for back strength, and it can help prevent weight gain. By stretching and doing back-strengthening exercises, you can create a stronger back and be less likely to deal with back pain. Experts recommend two and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity each week for back strength.
If you are already experiencing back pain, it is important to speak to your doctor or physiotherapist before starting an exercise program to ensure that you don’t do any damage to your back. Some types of activity, such as golf or tennis, can strain your back if you are not careful. To prevent any pain from occurring, you should stretch, warm-up, and cool down appropriately. If you are experiencing any type of back pain, it is always a good idea to take a break from any activity that could make it worse.
6. Strengthen Core Muscles
Core strength is just as important as back strength because your core helps support your spine. There are many different types of core muscle exercises, but to avoid potential injury, low-impact exercises such as water therapy, walking, stretching, yoga, Pilates, and exercise ball workouts are great for building core strength. It is also a good idea to engage your core muscles when walking, lifting, or even just sitting down to further prevent back pain.
7. Be Aware of Sleeping Position
Support when lying down is essential for posture. Your bed needs to be firm enough to support the weight of your body with a special focus on the weight of your shoulders and buttocks. The mattress needs to keep your spine straight. You should also make sure that your pillow isn’t forcing your neck into too steep of an angle. The position you sleep in is important, as well, because some can leave you stiff and sore in the morning. For example, sleeping on your stomach can put pressure on your lower back. While it is difficult to control your position while asleep, starting out on your back will help you to stay in the position for the rest of the night.
Hopefully, these tips can help you prevent back pain; however, if you are currently struggling with chronic pain or an injury in your back, Midwest Regenerative Health and Pain Clinic can help. With innovative stem cell treatments, our pain management experts can help relieve pain and prevent back pain in the future. Schedule an appointment with our team at 913-745-5300.