Back pain sends more patients to doctors than any condition other than the common cold. 56% of people with lower back pain say that symptoms disrupt their daily routines including sleep and exercise.
Back pain is rarely one catastrophic event but several situations combining to create pain. And it turns out that some seemingly insignificant everyday habits can take a big toll on your back over time.
The following habits are most responsible for the cumulative effects on the back over time.
1. You are a desk jockey. Let’s be honest: Maintaining proper posture is probably the last thing you’re thinking about when under a major work deadline. And on a jam-packed day, regular stretching breaks may not seem like a wise way to spend your time. But skipping these habits may cause your back to suffer. That’s because back muscles will weaken if you don’t use them; inactive joints lose lubrication and age more quickly. Over time the stress of poor posture can actually change the anatomical characteristics of the spine. When sitting, make sure your hips are slightly higher than your knees.
2. You have a long commute. Just like at your desk, hunching over a steering wheel can tighten chest muscles and cause your shoulders to round.
Slumping posture can zap energy and make you look heavier, not to mention also add significant stress to your back and neck muscles.
3. You skip the gym. Get moving to alleviate aches and pains and fix back pain faster.
New research shows that 40% of people become less active after back pain strikes-a strategy that’s likely to delay healing or even make their condition worse. Sit-ups and crunches may actually cause more back pain than they prevent.
Cardiovascular exercises such as swimming, walking, and bicycling are recommended, along with movements that improve flexibility. By improving circulation and lowering stress, just about any kind of exercise promotes back pain recovery, but yoga may be the best.
3. Your life’s in your purse/backpack/briefcase. A stuffed-to-the-gills carrier bag may cause back damage that’s comparable to a sports injury!
When you tote a heavy bag, your shoulders become imbalanced, and consequently so do your hips. Your body elevates the shoulder carrying the bag, which throws your spine off-kilter. Doing this every day can cause back muscles to ache over time.
4. You are overweight/Your diet is high in saturated fats, sodium and processed foods. Keep your weight under control for back pain prevention. Being overweight, especially in the mid-section, shifts your entire center of gravity forward and puts additional strain on your back muscles. Try to stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight to avoid experiencing unnecessary back pain. Research shows that eating habits that are good for your heart, weight and blood sugar are also good for your back. Exercise and a healthy diet can help move you toward this goal.
5. You are a smoker. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the discs that cushion your vertebrae and increases the rate of degenerative change. Cigarette smoking also reduces calcium absorption and prevents new bone growth, leaving smokers with double the risk of an osteoporotic fracture compared with non-smokers. Lastly, smoking actually increases your sensitivity to pain.