According to latest research data, approximately 4 out of 5 people experience back pain at least once in their lives. It might not sound alarming at first but in the long run, back pain can significantly decrease one’s productivity and quality of life. We use our back in every move that we make so losing it is something that anyone can’t afford. Regardless if it’s a minor pain or something that involves a serious illness, back pain deserves medical attention and quick intervention as well. There a lot of contributing factors related to back pain but most of the time, it arises from stress, sedentary lifestyle, poor body posture and other things that can be preventable with the right and effective strategies. There’s a plethora of health information out there but I simplified them to come up with five simple tips to help you kiss back pain goodbye:
Have a back-friendly sleep
When we sleep, most of our bodily processes slow down to let the whole system replenish its energy. This is a period of relaxation when our body doesn’t initiate active muscle movements. For this reason, people usually underestimate the role that sleep plays in maintaining the integrity of our back muscles. Both sleeping position and the quality of bed that we use can highly influence how we develop back pain. As a standard, sleeping on your stomach is not recommended because it can put pressure both on your neck muscles and spine. According to sleep experts, the traditional way of sleeping on your back (with pillow under your knees) or sleeping in a side-lying position (with pillow in between your knees) remains to be the best choice to arrest the development of back pain.
In addition to that, choosing the right bed to use for sleeping can also free your back from unnecessary pain caused by either a too hard or too soft bed mattress. Remember that in gauging the quality of a bed, you have to determine first if it’s something that can support your back for a long period of time. You can do this by checking if your ears, shoulder and hip joints creates a perfect alignment with each other the moment you lie down to try the bed.
Lastly, doing simple stretching exercises before and after you rise up from bed can also help in lubricating your intervertebral disks and redirecting the circulation to your back muscles. You can do a simple exercise just by stretching your arms above your head and pointing your toes towards the foot of the bed. During periods of sleep, the blood from your back usually flows towards different parts of the body so your goal after waking up must be to apply mild tension to your back muscles to stimulate blood flow and calm your tensed muscles at the same time.
Avoid sitting too long
Regardless if you’re a home-based employee, call-center agent or someone who loves travelling long distances using a car, sitting for more than one hour should never be tolerated. Using the principle of gravity, our spine and intervertebral disks can receive additional stress and pressure once we decide to sit down for long periods of time. Our back is not programmed to withstand that amount of pressure so to boost its efficiency, we must try to stand up and do some stretching from time to time. Now, if you’re in a car and couldn’t avoid sitting for long hours, the American Chiropractic Association has provided few tips to prevent the progression of back pain:
- Adjust your seat so you’re sitting comfortably close to the wheel, with your knees just higher than your hips.
- Use a back support or lumbar support.
- Take regular breaks to rest.
- Stretch your toes, leg muscles and shoulders as you drive.
- Keep hands on the steering wheel at the 3:00 and 7:00 positions, alternating occasionally with the 10:00 and 2:00 positions.
- Keep a relaxed grip on the wheel, occasionally tightening, then loosening, your hold.
- Avoid twisting your body especially when you’re lifting heavy objects.
- When you lift an object, try to tighten your abdominal muscles, keep the object closer to your body and bend your knees rather than your back.
- When moving heavy objects, push rather than pull the items. This technique will help minimize the stress your back usually receives during this type of activity.
- Women must avoid wearing high-heels because it can cause additional strain both to the spine and back muscles.
- Avoid slouching because it compresses your intervertebral disks and can cause back pain in the process. When you’re sitting in front of the computer, make sure that you keep your eye level straight and the arch on your lower back is always maintained so that you can keep back pain at bay.
Choose the right bags
More often than not, the type of bag you use on a daily basis can predict if you are going to develop back pain or not . Messenger bags and laptop bags are just some of the types that can bring unequal distribution of pressure on your shoulders. As a result, your posture will be less than ideal and your chances of developing both acute and chronic back pain can be increased significantly. Heavy backpacks have been an issue as well among school-age children because these type of bags have been linked to the development of bad posture and back pain as well. Experts advise parents to make sure that the weight of the children’s bags is not more than 10-15% of their body weight.
Regular exercise and healthy eating
Needless to say, maintaining a healthy lifestyle not only prevents back pain from continuing its vicious cycle but also boost our body’s defenses against major disorders. Drinking the recommended 6-8 ounces of water per day can help in maintaining the lubrication of our intervertebral disks. Regular exercise which focuses more on strengthening the abdominal muscles can also keep our back in tip-top shape. Keeping our weight within normal limits by eating complex carbohydrates that are free from saturated fats not only helps in strengthening our back muscles but prevent excessive fats from putting additional strain on our spine.
“Back pain, stay away”. The Philippine Star. Health and Family Section. October 13, 2009.
“10 Tips for Preventing Back Pain” by Anne Asher, About.com Guide. Updated June 26, 2008.
“How to Prevent Back Pain”. http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/pain/back/how-to-prevent-back-pain.htm
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