Statistics show that over 80 percent of Canadians will experience back pain at some time in their lives. Back pain hurts, of course, but it can also curtail routine activities, such as picking up a child or getting in and out of your a car. The good news is that while some causes of back pain such as – i.e., medical factors and pregnancy – are unavoidable, in most cases you can prevent problems by taking care of your back with simple lifestyle habits. Here are five tips that will help.
- Perfect your posture
It’s important to keep your spine properly aligned, whether you are walking or sitting. One way to improve your posture is to imagine that a string is attached to the top of your head, pulling you gently upwards towards the ceiling. Just thinking about it will help you lengthen your spine. When sitting, especially in front of a computer, be sure the chair supports your lower back – in a slightly arched position – and that both feet are flat on the floor. Don’t slump, and use an armrest to help reduce stress in the upper body. For good sleeping posture, use a supportive pillow and mattress, and sleep on your back or side.
- Be more active – every day
Poor fitness is associated with back pain. All types of activity contribute to back health, especially strength exercises for the back and abdominal muscles, and flexibility stretching for the entire body. Always warm up before physical activity, and stretch -out when you’re finished. To help make physical activity a habit, follow the Fit-in 15 program.
- Lift with care
Avoid lifting heavy objects that may place too much strain on your back. When you do lift, bend your knees and use your arm and leg muscles, not your back, to do the work. Hold the object close to your body and distribute the weight evenly.
Other lifestyle habits make a difference too!
- Maintaining a healthy weight reduces strain on your back.
- Drinking several glasses of water every day helps to keep your entire body hydrated, including the disks of your spine. Your spinal disks need water to keep them cushiony, which is good for back health.
- Mind/body activities including restorative yoga and regular massage can help you avoid stress-related back problems.
- See a health professional
See a health professional, such as a chiropractor, if you have back pain that persists. It may go away on its own, but there’s also a chance that back pain will recur if left untreated.