It is stunning to learn that 39 percent of adults say that low back pain has affected their ability to engage in tasks of daily living. According to experts, back issues affect 80 percent of Americans at some time in their lives.
But make no mistake about it. Low back pain isn’t just for those who spend a lot of time on their feet. In fact, 54 percent of people who experience low back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting.
It is clear that knowing the best ways to avoid lower back pain is essential.
These six suggestions may help prevent the onset of this debilitating condition and allow you to live your life fully and without pain.
Prevention is the Key
You may be able to avoid back pain or prevent its recurrence by taking steps to keep your back healthy and strong:
- Exercise regularly.
There is no way around it. To have a healthy and strong back, you must get up and move.
Low-impact aerobic activities that don’t strain or jolt your body can increase strength and endurance in your back and allow your muscles to function better. Walking is helpful and swimming is an ideal choice. When you get in the pool for water therapy, the buoyancy of the water supports your body’s weight, reducing stress on your joints and spine and allowing for greater range of motion.
Regardless of the exercise you choose, always warm up or stretch before beginning any physical activity. This advice is not just for common workouts, but should also be done before such less vigorous movements such as gardening or dog walking.
And a reminder that you should always talk to your healthcare professional before you begin any physical activity.
- Work Your Core.
Abdominal and back muscle exercises, referred to as core-strengthening exercises, help condition these muscles so that they work together like a natural corset for your back. Building muscle strength and maintaining flexibility is key to preventing back issues.
- Healthy weight.
Being overweight can strain back muscles. If you’re overweight, trimming down may help prevent back pain. Maintain proper nutrition and diet to prevent weight gain, especially weight around the waistline that burdens lower back muscles.
- Stop smoking.
Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis and impedes healing. Coughing due to heavy smoking also may cause back pain. It is not an easy goal, but when you quit smoking, the benefits go far beyond a healthy back.
- Good posture.
Your Mom was right when she told you to stand up straight. Try not to slouch when standing or sitting. The lower back can support a person’s weight most easily when the curvature is reduced.
Be aware of maintaining a neutral pelvic position. If you must stand for long periods, place one foot on a low footstool to take some of the load off your lower back.
If you sit for long periods of time at your job, choose a seat with good lower back support, armrests and a swivel base. Consider placing a pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back to maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level. Change your position or get up and stretch at least every 30 to 60 minutes.
- Lift smart.
Avoid heavy lifting, if possible, but if you must lift something heavy, let your legs do the work. Keep your back straight, without twisting, and bend only at the knees. Hold the load close to your body.
Not being in the right position while lifting can place extra stress on the lower back muscles. When there is added pressure from trying to raise an object that is too heavy, the result is often an injury. This stress in lifting can cause tiny tears to form in the muscle, leading to pain. Improper lifting can have serious, and possible long-term effects on the back.
We Can Help
Low back pain is best treated by professionals educated in this discipline. At Arizona Pain and Spine, our highly-trained, well-knowledgeable and experienced pain specialists provide safe and effective pain management and treatment solutions for low back pain and other pain conditions.
Get started with your treatment. Call us now at (480) 986-7246 and make an appointment with our skilled team today.