According to the National Institutes of Health, 8 out of every ten adults experience back pain at some point in their life. For most people, the back resolves within a few days, if not a few weeks. However, some may not recover so quickly, or at all.
Chronic back pain can affect your physical, mental, and social health. Though you may not be able to prevent all causes of back pain, some of your daily habits may be setting you up for future back problems.
At Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates in Independence, Ohio, our orthopedic specialists want you to know the things you’re doing every day that can wreck your back so you can make changes now that may save you from back pain later in life.
Slouching when you sit, stand, or walk
How you hold and carry your body when you sit, walk, or stand may place excess stress on the structures in your back, which may increase the rate of the wear and tear that leads to back problems. Good posture redistributes your body and produces the least amount of strain on your muscles, ligaments, and joints.
Good posture takes practice and may require support. When standing or walking, keep your head up and your shoulders back to support the natural curves of your spine. When sitting, use a chair that provides excellent lumbar support and keeps your knees level with your hips, and be sure to keep your head up and shoulders back. Changes in the height of your desk or computer may be needed to improve the ergonomics of your workspace.
Skipping your pre-exercise stretching
Exercise is good for your health, and strengthening exercises that focus on your back muscles may help keep your back healthy. But if you’re not stretching and warming up before you start your workout, you may be setting yourself up for a back injury.
Stretching improves muscle strength and flexibility. When you skip it, and you suddenly push your muscles into activity, they may be weak and tight, which can lead to muscle strain and pain.
The best sleeping position for back health is on your side in the fetal position, according to the National Institutes of Health. This position opens up the joints in your spine and reduces pressure and stress.
However, making a few adjustments to your usual sleeping position may help your back too. If you sleep on your back, a pillow under your knees may improve the curvature of your spine to alleviate pressure and pain. For stomach sleepers, place a pillow under your stomach and pelvis and use a flat pillow for your head (or no pillow at all) to simulate the natural curves of your spine.
Lifting with your back
Poor lifting habits can lead to a back injury. Never lift anything too heavy. When picking up a heavy object, you need to squat. Bending at your hips and knees while keeping your back straight. Then, keep the object close to your stomach and raise your body by straightening your hips and knees. Once upright, don’t twist your back, but use your feet to change positions.
Making too many poor diet choices
What you eat can have a significant effect on back health. Poor diet habits that lead to weight gain increases the stress on your back and the rate of wear and tear that leads to back problems such as arthritis and sciatica.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet filled with adequate amounts of calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus also supports bone health. It may reduce your risk of osteoporosis, which is a bone disease that can cause painful vertebral fractures.
Making changes to everyday habits may reduce the burden placed on your back to prevent future back problems or alleviate current back pain. If you’re suffering from chronic back pain and you’ve exhausted all your medical treatment options, we may be able to help. We specialize in spinal surgery and perform complex procedures using minimally invasive techniques to correct conditions that cause back pain.
To schedule an appointment with our orthopedic surgical specialists to discuss surgical options for relief from your back pain, call Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates today.