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Back Pain Prevention Tips

Did you know back pain is the fifth most common reason why people go to the doctor? If you suffer from back pain, you are not alone. It is an extremely common ailment, but as common as it may be, in this case, misery does not love company. Back pain can really put a halter on your daily activity. Fortunately, most cases of back pain can be managed and future pain can be prevented by following some healthy habits.

Move your body. When you are suffering from back pain, you may think that letting your back rest is the best course course of action, but the truth is that regular strengthening of your core muscles, stretching and aerobic exercise are healthy for your spine. Exercising regularly helps reduce tension and inflammation.

Watch your weight and what you eat. Weak bones are a major cause of back pain. Keep your bones strong and healthy by increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake. Milk, yogurt and leafy greens are great sources of calcium, while fatty fish, beef and egg yolks contain great amounts of vitamin D. Keeping a balanced diet can also help maintain your ideal weight, which is imperative in order to promote a healthy spine. A few extra pounds, especially if they are accumulated in your midsection, can shift your center of gravity, straining your lower back.

Put that cigarette down. We all know smoking is bad for your health, but did you know it is also a contributor to an unhealthy back? Smoking can restrict the flow of blood to your spinal discs, causing them to dry out and potential crack. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen traveling through your blood, which reduces the amount of nutrients traveling to your muscles and tendons.

Sweet dreams. Doctors recommend to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees and your knees pulled up slightly towards your chest as it puts the least pressure on your back. If you can’t have it any other way than to sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to cut the pressure on your back and make sure the pillow under your head is not pushing your head upwards towards your chest. Sleeping on your stomach is especially straining for your back, but if you must, then place a pillow under your hips.

Watch your posture. When  standing for long periods of time, keep your back straight, your head up and your stomach tucked in. Keep one foot forward of the other with your knees slightly bent and switch every 10 or 15 minutes to relieve pressure off your lower back. If possible, rest one foot on a step stool and switch every 10 to 15 minutes. The same principles of good posture apply when sitting. Choose a good quality chair that has a straight back or low back support. Adding a backrest or back roll can ease the pressure on your lower back. Make sure your knees are slightly higher than your hips when sitting and if you can, put your feet up on a step stool.     

Lighten the load. It’s not just about carrying heavy moving boxes. Your laptop, a suitcase or a load of groceries can strain your back too. When possible, take some weight off your shoulders by either carrying less, distributing the weight to both sides of your body, or shifting the weight from one side to the other often. Using a bag with a wide, adjustable strap that crosses over your chest (like a messenger bag), is ideal for evenly distributing the weight to both sides of your body. When lifting heavy objects off the floor, bend your knees and squat holding the object close to your body, rather than bending over from your waist. If you can, push heavy objects, rather than pulling them. Kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor and push with your body as close as possible to the object.

Dress the part. High heels may make you look stylish and elegant, but they shift your center of gravity and strain your back terribly. Low-heeled shoes are best for your back, but if you must wear higher than one-inch heels, bring a pair of extra shoes to change into when you feel uncomfortable. Clothing that is too tight restricts you when bending, sitting or walking, aggravating your back pain, so ditch the too-skinny jeans and stick to more loose and comfortable clothing.

Take out your wallet. Sitting on an overstuffed wallet for prolonged periods of time makes your back uneven, causing pain. If you are going to be sitting for long periods of time, like while driving, take your wallet out of your back pocket.