Back pain can be uncomfortable, annoying, and downright debilitating at times, and yet, it seems to be an everyday part of life. That simply doesn’t have to be the case. Avoiding these 5 things could help you successfully prevent back pain for good:
Rest, taking it easy, putting your feet up, binging Netflix . . . all of these ideas seem obvious for taking it easy on your back, especially if you have stiff or sore muscles, right? Wrong. Back pain is only exacerbated by inactivity because it diminishes blood flow to key tissues – blood flow which aids healing and carries vital nutrients to muscles, bones, tendons,
Inactivity also shortens muscle length and makes muscles and joints stiffer and less limber, so when you do finally get around to exercising, stretching, or taking part in some physical activity, they’re more likely to strain and feel sore later. The American College of Physicians actually lists exercise and physical activity as a remedy for lower back pain in their updated 2017 clinical guidelines
In addition to inactivity, working on a computer all day also promotes bad posture, which can lead to back pain. Slumping, slouching, rounding the shoulders, craning the neck, and hunching the back – all these body positions place added stress on internal joints and the spine, making
muscles strain and work harder to stabilize your body.
Forward Head Syndrome, or the condition where your neck and head lean forward past your shoulders, is typically applied to people who spend hours and hours each day staring down at a computer screen or other mobile device. Studies have shown that for every inch your head cranes past your shoulders, you’re applying 10 extra pounds of force down on your body from the pull of gravity. This pull tugs directly on your neck and back muscles, leading to inflammation and chronic pain down the line.
No, we’re not talking embarrassing dance moves, but awkward movements which twist and turn your body in ways it really shouldn’t. A good example of this is trying to pick up an item you dropped behind your bedroom dresser. You stoop and swivel your shoulder, crane your neck and extend your arm farther than it should really stretch, grasping for a tiny object you can’t even see. You feel a yank, pop, or pull and all of a sudden your neck and back muscles are crying for help.
Awkward body movements and positions like this can lead to muscle spasming, inflammation, pinched nerves, and lasting achiness. Humans are so inclined to think the easiest route for something is over-extending themselves, when truly taking the time to use proper form or finding an assist with a tool or handy device could save much pain and trouble down the line.
Bad Lifting Technique
Lifting heavy loads with improper form and technique is the ultimate recipe for back pain, especially lower back pain. Millions of people see their doctor each year for complaints about some type of back pain, but those who work in physical labor jobs like airport baggage handlers, movers, warehouse workers, and even nurses who are required to lift and move patients, have it the hardest. Wearing a lower back brace can help provide compression, support, and stabilization for someone doing heavy lifting each day, but nothing beats proper form and technique.
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) shares proper
lifting techniques and guidelines for workplace lifting including using machines, tools, and
devices when possible to add leverage or to do the lifting for you. They also recommend companies implement good lifting environments like having workers lift from their ‘power zone’ (mid-thigh to mid-chest) area and not straight off of the ground.
Skipping Warm-ups & Stretching
Going from 0 to 60 might be fun in a fast-moving sports car, but when it comes to working out, launching into a full-on session without warming up can take its toll. Dynamic warm-ups are active movements that help your muscles warm up by boosting your heart rate, increasing blood circulation, and stretching and loosening stiff joints and connective tissues. A dynamic warm-up before a game, weight lifting circuit, or workout may include plyometric jump squats, a brisk walk, burpees, or jumping jacks.
Stretching after a workout or training session also plays an important role in preventing sore back muscles. Your muscles are most pliable after you complete physical activity. Engaging in static stretching helps re-lengthen muscles, boost blood flow to flush out toxins and lactic acid, and reorganize jumbled muscle fibers to aid with healing and tissue repair.
Preventing back pain is possible and has a lot to do with what you avoid doing as much as what you choose to do. Avoiding inactivity, bad posture, heavy lifting, and more will play a significant role in keeping you active and pain-free.