How to have a healthy, pain free back

Millions of people suffer from back pain diminishing the quality of life.  For some, the pain can be so debilitating it causes them to miss work, social events or even accomplishing everyday activities.

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Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain making it difficult to move.  Causes of back pain include:

·      Age – more common the older you get

·      Poor physical fitness

·      Being overweight – the excess weight puts stress on the back

·      Heredity

·      Your job – heavy lifting or sitting at a desk all day can cause back pain

·      Smoking – this reduces transport of nutrients to the discs in your back

If you currently don’t experience back pain, consider yourself lucky but don’t take it for granted.  Taking care of your spine – your back and neck – will help reduce the chances of possible back pain later in life.

There are many steps you can do to achieve a healthy, pain free back. If you make these tips a part of your daily routine you will avoid a lot of common back and neck problems.

·      Correct sleeping position

When we sleep this is the one chance your back has the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate.  Make sure your mattress, pillow and sleep positions are allowing this by keeping your spine in a supported and comfortable position. 

·      Avoid sitting for long periods of time

Prolonged periods of sitting can be the cause or can aggravate a painful back condition.  Sitting creates more pressure on the discs in the lower spine.  If you sit at a desk all day or do prolonged work on a computer, we have a tendency to slouch and lean forward putting more pressure on our lumbar discs.

It’s important to get up and stretch and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes during the day.  When talking on the phone, get up and pace and never cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder – hold it to your ear or use a headset to avoid neck pain.  

Have a supportive office chair or if possible, work at a standup desk for at least part of the day.  Moving around and getting up frequently keeps the spine healthy and moves vital nutrients to this area.

·      Do exercises for the back and abs

Strong, toned core muscles, your lower back and abdominal muscles, are necessary to support your spine taking pressure off your lower back.  The core muscles need to be worked out through specific, targeted exercises.  Take time each day to perform these movements and your back pain will be reduced. 

·      Wear supportive shoes

Supportive shoes play a role in providing a supportive base helping the spine and body remain in alignment.  When shoes fit correctly, this can help avoid some potential back issues and prevents the foot from pronation or supination – too much rolling of the foot to the outside or inside of the shoe. 

·      Get a massage

Having a massage is not only a good stress reliever but it also has therapeutic benefits for your back.  Massages will encourage blood flow bringing healing nutrients to the spine and will release endorphins – your body’s natural painkiller – bringing relief to the back. 

·      Keep active

Movement helps maintain the health of your spine.  Combine movements of stretching, strengthening and aerobic activity each day to keep your back supple and pain free.  Exercise will also help with weight loss or maintenance.  Being overweight, particularly if you have belly fat, adds stress on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your lower back.

When to see a doctor

If back pain persists and is not getting better or becoming worse, make an appointment with your doctor to investigate what is the underlying cause.  Always see a doctor and do not self-medicate or self-diagnosis if you have the following:

·      Numbness or tingling in the back or neck

·      Severe pain that does not improve with rest

·      Pain after a fall or injury