Back pain is more common than you think. While a dull ache or a sharp sensation can occur in the upper or middle part of the back, most report having pain in the lower back. This lower-back issue is shared among 80 percent of the adult population, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
Depending on the intensity and persistence, over-the-counter medications and worthwhile practices can ease the pain and provide relief to sufferers of this condition. You can try these measures to manage and, more importantly, prevent back pain and injury.
The lumbar region, or the lower spine, supports the bulk of the weight and provides freedom and flexibility to move. These two functions set the stage for the lower back to be susceptible to stress and injury. Any excess or additional body weight then becomes a burden to the spine. This explains why overweight or obese people usually complain about back pain.
Against this backdrop, exercise provides the most natural way to lose weight. It is good for the muscles that support the joints and intervertebral discs that (1) cushion the spine and (2) serve as its shock absorbing system.
For your fitness program, look into low-impact aerobic activities such as brisk walking, swimming, and biking. Aerobic exercises improve muscle endurance and increase blood flow. The goal of your regimen is to involve your whole body, particularly the core. Core exercises that involve the lower back, hips, pelvis, and abdomen enhance balance and stability, per Mayo Clinic.
Give your body time to pick up the pace of physical activities, especially if you have not been exercising for a long time. Cramming exercises in a short period will only strain your muscles and, worse, lead to injuries.
If you have preexisting conditions, consult with your doctor for activities. You may be concerned about hurting your back, but exercising is actually better than not moving around at all.
Proper nutrition works alongside regular exercise. While the link between diet and back pain is relatively gray, the key takeaway is that, when you ingest inflammatory foods like processed meat and sugary drinks, your muscles contract without relaxing. This situation can lead to irritation and spasms.
Another diet that triggers muscle reactions is eating excessively spicy foods. They tend to excite the nervous system by stimulating pain fibers, which explains the burning, sweating, and other physical reactions, including pain in the back.
Accordingly, practice eating healthy with vegetables, dairy products, lean meat, and fresh fruits in your daily diet. These items enhance the workings of your digestive tract and overall body functions.
While you can sleep on your back, it isn’t the best position for your spine. The same goes when you sleep on your stomach.
What’s ideal is to sleep on your side, such as assuming a fetal position, because it does not put pressure on the spine. If you can’t sleep any other way, put pillows under your knees and lower back when sleeping on your back, or under your hips if sleeping on your stomach.
Stand and Sit Properly
Slouching can damage your back. Whether you are walking or sitting, maintain good posture to provide support to your muscles and ligaments and, more importantly, to reduce the stress on your spine.
When in the office, take advantage of ergonomic chairs that follow the natural curve of the back so that you feel comfortable and your spine protected.
Also, be careful when you lift heavy objects to avoid hurting your back. The proper technique is to squat down with hips and knees bent, keep the load close to the body, keep your body straight, and slowly lift.
Get the Right Chair
Considering most of us sit for at least 8 hours a day just at work alone, the chair you sit in has a huge impact on the health of your back and spinal discs.
According to Scottish researchers, sitting in a chair with a fixed 90 degree upright backrest increases the strain on our discs in the lower back. The best sitting position is “what you get in a La-Z-Boy”, according to Dr. Waseem Amir Bashir.
Ergonomists recommend choosing an office chair that reclines 135 degrees back when working, which have been shown to exert the minimal amount of pressure on the back, alleviating back pain in the process.
Stress can cause muscles to tense up, and this chronic tension can contribute to back pain. Indeed, stressed people tend to experience pain in the lower back than those who are not.
You may need to reassess how you deal with stress and life circumstances in general. The answer is key to finding ways to lessen anxiety, negative thoughts, and other emotions that can lead to physical problems.
In addition to exercise, engage in activities like deep breathing and yoga to calm your mind and body. Other ways to relieve stress include reading, going to movies, and listening to music.
Get Back Support
There are many causes of back pain as there are readily available and doable solutions for it. Massage relaxes your muscles and puts the right amount of pressure in the back. Put extra care in choosing clothes and shoes. Skinny jeans can hamper your posture, and heels push the back to arch more. Also, skip stuffing your back pocket with a thick wallet.
For acute back pain, which can last for a few days, apply elastic tapes. These sports tapes are designed for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who, in the ordinary course of training, experience discomfort and sometimes sustain injuries. These kinesiology tapes provide relief to pain, promote faster healing, and lend support to the back.
Be kind to your spine, and make sure you watch your back.
What’s your go-to solution for this all-too-familiar ache? Tell us in the comments section.