Avoid these 5 habits to prevent low back pain
Low back pain – most of us will have a bout or two of it at some point in our lives. You may blame it on arthritis or even the weather, but could certain habits you do unknowingly be the main reason for that achy pain?
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, about half of healthy, active people over age 60 experience low back pain. Even much younger individuals will complain of pain in the lower region of their back, so it’s not necessarily a sign of aging. What might be the primary cause are certain every day habits triggering the pain. By making a few tweaks and adjustments to your routine, your nagging low back pain may soon disappear.
5 habits possibly causing low back pain
1. Sleeping on the wrong mattress
Take a good look at your mattress. Ask yourself, do you wake up with back pain? Does it get better if you do stretches to get rid of it? Are you frequently tossing and turning during the night, having difficulty getting to sleep? If you answered “yes” to each question, it’s a sign your mattress is doing more harm than good.
Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause or worsen lower back pain. Lack of support from a mattress reinforces poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not help keep the spine in alignment, all of which contribute to low back pain.
Another question to ask is how old is your mattress? When past their prime, they may become soft and lumpy causing your back to contort as it tries to adjust to sinking in. It’s recommended to change mattresses as often as every seven years or anytime it’s showing signs of wear such as sagging. Choose a mattress that provides support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine which helps prevent muscles soreness in the morning. A 2015 review published in the medical journal Sleep Health, found that a medium-firm mattress usually provides more back pain relief than a firm mattress.
2. Sitting most of the day
Hours spent seated on your bottom puts pressure on the cushioned discs between the bones in your back. Anyone with a desk job should get up every 30 minutes and walk around for at least a couple of minutes. This helps squeeze fluid out of the discs, helping to head off future pain. If possible, investing in a standing table to spend less time sitting gives your back a break from sitting excessively. A 2018 study published in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, found those who used a sit-stand desk reduced their low back pain by 50 percent along with taking movement breaks.
3. Eating a poor diet
A healthy diet can play a role in your back health, believe it or not. Years of eating poorly – chips, burgers, fries, soda, candy, etc. – takes a toll on your body by resulting in excess weight gain leading to lower back pain. If this scenario fits you, begin to include a lot more fruit, vegetables, lean protein such as fish and chicken and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil, into your diet. This anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce inflammation in the body that can worsen chronic pain, including back pain. This way of eating can also lead to some weight loss – even losing just five pounds can significantly reduce the load on your spine.
4. Poor posture
Pay attention to your posture. Every time you slouch or stoop, your back muscles and ligaments strain to keep you balanced causing stress on the back. Do postures checks frequently throughout the day. When standing, make sure your shoulders are back, your stomach is pulled in and your feet are about shoulder-width apart. If you are standing for a while, shift your body weight from your toes to your heels or vice versa and from foot to foot. When sitting, keep your feet flat on the floor with your thighs parallel to them, legs uncrossed. If you’re not sure if you are standing or sitting correctly, consider seeing a physical therapist or occupational therapist for a consult.
5. Doing too much activity to quickly
You know the person who comes to work complaining how much their back hurts after spending the weekend cleaning out their garage? Or maybe you went on a week-long golf vacation (after not having played golf in years) twisting and turning picking up balls only to have an aching, sore back from back strain. Even if you’re in good shape, certain activities your body may not be used to can lead to low back pain. If you know you’re going to be engaging in more strenuous physical activity that’s out of the ordinary, fit in some time to prepare your body. Start doing stretches, yoga or Pilates to ease your body into gearing up for the extra movement keeping your back pain-free.