Back pain is an extremely common condition, and can range from mildly annoying to extremely debilitating. Your chances for developing back pain depend on a multitude of factors. Some are out of your control, like genetics, bone alignment, and age-related changes. However, there are quite a few factors that you can control. These are related to your everyday life and habits. Changes to these factors can help you to avoid back pain.
Factors that lead to back pain
There are several factors that can cause back pain. The most obvious example is having an injury, either from improper lifting, an auto accident, or a fall. But, there are other things that can cause damage to your back that may not seem as obvious. For example, being overweight causes excessive pressure and strain to the spine. This weakens structures and increases the potential to experience pain. Having increased belly fat can compound this problem by pulling the pelvis forward and straining the lower back. Poor posture is another factor that causes back pain. Improper sitting or standing can put pressure in areas of the spine and cause it to degenerate. Finally, reduced fitness levels can also contribute to back issues. Having muscles that are weak or inflexible means there is less support for the spine, leading to a higher incidence of damage to this area.
Lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for back pain
If you’re concerned about your chances of suffering from back pain, your best strategy is to make smart changes to your lifestyle now. While there are no guarantees that any lifestyle changes will completely eliminate your risk, following these tips is sure to have a positive impact.
Become more physically active
- If you’re not already getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (like jogging) each week, you should this a primary goal. Try various types of exercise to figure out which are best for you. Create an exercise plan that you can stick with in the long term.
Maintain a healthy weight
- As mentioned above, weight is one of the bigger factors in determining risk for back pain, so losing weight should be another major focus if you are currently overweight; this is obviously easier said than done, so it may be best to see a dietician or nutritionist to identify dietary issues and establish a healthy eating plan
Smoking restricts blood flow to the intervertebral discs that lie in between the spinal bones (vertebrae). This puts smokers a much higher risk of developing back pain than non-smokers. Quitting now is another great way to reduce your risk.
Improve your posture
- Having better posture minimizes excessive stress on the spine. The way you position your body when you’re sitting, standing, and walking all affect your spine’s health. Excessive stress on the spine can cause back pain over time. If you work at a computer, make sure it’s at eye level. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and the back of your chair in an upright position. Your keyboard should be directly in front of you, and at a height so your shoulders are relaxed, elbows slightly bent, and wrist and hands straight.
Other lifestyle factors
- Reduce Stress Levels: Stress can cause you to tense and tighten your muscles. This deprives them of the energy needed to support the spine, and can result in back pain. Any activity that alleviates stress can therefore decrease risk of back pain.
- Check your accessories: Avoid high heels. If you carry a heavy purse or backpack, try to reduce the weight, since this can cause pressure on your spine. Avoid tight pants or clothing that can also create pressure and cause back pain. These are lesser known factors that can also contribute to the development of back pain in various ways.
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If you practice these tips, it is possible that you can reduce your risk of developing back pain. If you do require treatment for back pain, there are several forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, that can provide natural relief.