Back pain, especially lower back pain, is one of the most common sources of chronic pain. Back pain affects 8 out of 10 people, and most often starts during middle age. The aging process causes muscle atrophy and disc degeneration, both of which can result in back pain. It is important to take steps to prevent back pain before it starts, and to mitigate its debilitating effects if you already experience chronic back pain. If you experience chronic back pain, I’m sure you’ve heard about lots of ways to alleviate it, from taking pain killers and muscle relaxers, to seeing a chiropractor, or even surgery. There are several things you can do to prevent and alleviate lower back pain that are safe, free, and effective:
1. Get in Shape – Target the Abs
Staying fit and keeping strong muscles throughout life is extremely important for preventing the onset of back pain. Maintaining strong abdomen muscles is most important, because your abs are essential to maintaining balance and supporting your back. On the flip side, carrying around a large amount of excess belly fat will put more strain on your back, and without the muscles to support the weight this leads to chronic pain.
2. Stretch Daily
Do proper warm ups and cool downs before and after you exercise or strain your body. Do a daily stretching program that keeps you flexible and limber. There are certain stretches and low impact movements like yoga and pilates that are especially helpful for preventing back pain.
3. Lose Weight
This one goes along with the first two. If you are overweight your back has a lot more to support, therefore putting unnecessary strain and stress on your back that leads to pain and discomfort. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising are the most important things you can do to prevent back pain.
4. Don’t Sit For Long Periods of Time
Whether it’s driving, sitting in an office chair, or sitting on the couch, long periods of sitting cause stiffness and tightness that result in back pain. Not surprisingly, back pain is extremely common in office workers. Extended periods of sitting also loads the spine and compresses the disks, leading to disk problems. Sitting also leads to bad posture and neck problems. Remember, sitting is not a natural position for humans, yet many of us sit in chairs for most of our waking hours. Invest in an ergonomic desk chair and foot rest to maintain proper posture while sitting. Do your best to interrupt sitting periods with frequent breaks. Get up and do some stretches or go for a short walk. It may be hard to get yourself to do this, but it is extremely important.
5. Sleep in a Healthy Position
We spend around 8 hours a day (ideally) sleeping, so it’s easy to imagine that sleeping in a bad position for this long could lead to stress on your back and neck. Make sure you have the right pillow to prevent a sore neck. The most ideal sleep position to prevent back pain is to sleep on your back with your spine in a neutral position. Sleeping on your side or stomach leads to unnatural curves in the spine which causes strain over a long period of time.
There you have it, the 5 most effective ways to prevent back pain. As an added bonus, here are a few more ways: Drink plenty of water. Drinking lots of water helps keep fluid in between the discs of your spine so they don’t compress and cause pain. Avoid heavy lifting and straining your body in unnatural twisting motions. When you do lift, make sure you back is square (not at an angle) and that you use your legs to lift, not your back.