Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work. Most people have back pain at least once in their lives. Fortunately, you can take measures to prevent or relieve most back pain episodes.
Everyday activity is key to a healthy back, and back pain rarely happens overnight. Unless it’s the direct result of an accident, it’s usually caused by repeated motion or inaction (like sitting slumped at a desk for long periods of time). This puts our body out of alignment forcing it to work in strange angles, resulting in back pain or injury.
Strive for good posture all the time. Practicing good posture is key to reducing your risk for back injury. Understanding your optimal gait, standing and sitting postures, gives you a reference point for adjusting movements throughout your day. Tweak your movements to support and strengthen your back. (Read our blog post the Secret to Good Posture.)
Sleeping posture matters too. Making simple changes to your sleeping position, can relieve back strain and allow your back to rest.
Sleeping on your back on a mattress of medium firmness is the best position to keep back pain at bay. Place a pillow or rolled up towel under your knees to promote the natural curve of your spine.
Side sleepers use a pillow in between your knees. This helps rest your lower back, but a thick body pillow will help keep your whole body aligned while you sleep.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach
Save your back while you work.
Whether your workplace is a laptop, phone, computer desk, or even your car — make certain it is set-up for your height and functionality. Keep in mind that staying in one position too long causes the back muscles to tighten up and increase your risk for pain or injury.
Lift heavy objects with your legs. Keep objects close to your body and do not twist. Ask for help if it’s too heavy to lift alone.
Avoid sudden twisting movements, especially in awkward positions (i.e. reaching for something in the cabinet, back seat, etc.) It’s worth the extra couple of seconds to do it correctly.
Adjust your fashion choices for a healthy back.
Keep your purses off your shoulders. Carry them under your arm like a clutch. Or wear a bag or briefcase with a wide, adjustable strap that’s long enough to reach over your head. Having the strap on the opposite shoulder of the bag distributes the weight more evenly and helps keep your shoulders even and your back pain-free.
Men, keep your wallets out of your back pocket. Carry them or put them in your front pocket.
Lighten the load – Purge your bags and wallets regularly.
Ditch the skinny jeans or any clothing that restricts your natural movement when walking, sitting or bending down.
Avoid high heels. They can shift your center of gravity and strain your lower back. But, if you feel you must wear a heel, try to keep the heel to 1” or bring a pair of flats with you for when your feet get sore and your back begins to feel tired.
Exercise is the best prevention
Being active not only strengthens your supporting back muscles, it improves endurance and helps to maintain a healthy weight. All of which contribute to your pain-free back.
Begin any exercise routine with stretching. To get the maximum benefit from stretching warm up your muscles by walking for 5 to 10 minutes. Improve flexibility through passive stretching and increase strength through active stretching.
Need a little boost to get yourself into a back-healthy way of life? Our Paspa Physical Therapists provide comprehensive and balanced exercise programs, helping to prevent injury and pain. Usually on the first visit, the physical therapist will give you a program you can do at home.
Did you know you can become a member of our gym?
Many of our patients want to continue exercising at Paspa after discharge. The transition to independent exercise becomes seamless by participating in the aftercare program. Our staff is on hand to assist with equipment set-ups and your therapist is on site to answer any questions that may come up.Your circuit sheet is kept on file for you and we provide shorts and tee-shirts to make the process of getting to the gym as simple as possible. Gym memberships are also available to outside clients. Please contact the front desk for more information including rates and incentive programs.
Working with a physical therapist is the quickest way to rid yourself of back damaging habits, feeling great and doing somersaults, if you want to!