6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Back Pain
Having an aching back is, well, a pain.
Whether you’re suffering from a dull ache between your shoulders or sharp pains in your lower back, acute back pain can put a halt to anything you’ve got planned for the day. Standing, bending, and stretching are out of the question, and even sitting at your desk and working may be painful.
As the old maxim says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and it holds true when it comes to protecting yourself from back pain.
Rather than taking medications and looking for treatments for back pain after it happens, try these 6 things to help you prevent back pain before it even starts:
Maintain a Healthy Weight
One of the biggest triggers of acute back pain, especially as we age, is weight gain.
The more weight you’re carrying around with you, the more weight that’s pressing on your back, joints, and muscles.
By reducing your overall body weight, you can relieve the pressure on your back and reduce the risk of strained muscles and pain. While it may seem tempting to look to fad “diets” and pills to help you achieve this goal, the best way is always the traditional way: Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Even losing 5 percent of your overall body weight eases the stress on your body and can help you see relief from your pain.
Exercise isn’t just meant for maintaining a healthy weight. If you aren’t exercising but are at a healthy weight, you can still experience back pain caused by weak muscles.
Routinely engaging in some strength training and stretching can create stronger muscles in your back, core, and hips, giving you a back that’s less likely to experience strained muscles.
Aerobic exercise is great for your overall health, endurance, and heart health, but it’s not going to do much for strengthening your muscles. Don’t be afraid of the dumbbells or resistance bands!
Start with some light to moderate exercise twice a week, then increase the frequency by a day or two per week. Ideally, you’ll get about 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 or more days a week, but if you’re really into it you can increase the length and intensity of your sessions.
Although you may think that smoking just impacts your cardiovascular health, it also can cause you to be more susceptible to back pain.
When you smoke, you’re restricting the flow of blood throughout your body. This includes the flow of blood to the discs in your spine.
If your spinal discs aren’t getting the blood they need, they’re more likely to become weakened and lead to pain.
If you’ve ever woken up in the morning with a back ache that wasn’t there the night before, it’s possible your sleep position is the culprit.
The most ideal position for preventing back pain is sleeping on your side with your knees drawn up slightly toward your chest. This stretches out your spine gently, preventing the pain and injuries that happen if your muscles are stained too far.
However, sleeping on your back also can be helpful for preventing back pain. If this is your preferred position, consider putting a pillow under your knees to bring your spine into better natural alignment.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach at all costs, as this position puts extra force on your vertebrae.
If you can’t sleep any other way, put a pillow beneath your hips to raise them up and keep your spine from curving too dramatically.
Watch Your Posture
All those admonishments from your mother to “Sit up straight” are just as important as an adult as they were as a kid.
If you’re sitting hunched over, especially if you’re sitting for hours a day at a desk job, you’re weakening the muscles in your core and back. You’re also putting extra pressure on your lower vertebrae and back muscles, making them more likely to become strained and painful.
Practice sitting up straight with your shoulders pushed back slightly. It takes some getting used to, but proper posture is one of the best ways to prevent back pain.
Many people find setting a reminder on their phones once an hour or getting an app that reminds them to sit up straight every so often helps adjust their posture enough that it comes naturally after a while.
The size and weight of your wallet, as well as any purses or bags you may carry on a daily basis, can contribute greatly to throwing your spine out of alignment, causing you back pain.
Try to keep what’s in your wallet to the basics – Your license, credit cards, and cash – and remove it from your pocket if you’ll be sitting for a while at your desk or in the car.
If you’re carrying a purse, bag, or briefcase on a regular basis, make sure it’s got wide, adjustable straps so it can be adjusted to your comfort level.
Whenever possible, look for bags that allow for two straps to go over your shoulders or bags that allow for the strap to be worn on the opposite shoulder from the bag itself.
And if you carry a backpack, put both straps over your shoulders when you’re moving. Throwing all that weight onto one shoulder can cause some major pain!
Chiropractic Care for Back Pain in Frederick, MD
Back pain is not something you just have to “live with” as you get older. If prevention doesn’t work, see the experienced chiropractic team at Lipinski Chiropractic to get you back into good shape. Dr. Sebastian Lipinski evaluates each client’s case individually, recommending a unique course of treatment to help you reach your health and wellness goals. Schedule a consultation today!