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How to Avoid Back Pain

Is your back pain interfering with your life?

If you answered yes, you are not alone! Nearly four out of five people experience back pain at some point in their lifetime and many have repeat incidents of back pain throughout their life. With proper care and education, you can learn to prevent bouts of back pain from occurring.

Back pain can vary, from a persistent dull ache to sudden sharp pain, and can have many causes. Sometimes it results from a sprain, fracture, or other accidental injury. It can stem from a disease or medical condition, such as herniated disc, arthritis, fibromyalgia, or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal through which the spinal cord runs). Also, many people develop back pain due to lifestyle choices that they can control; for example lifting improperly, being sedentary, overweight, or smoking.

back pain

In most cases back pain is the result of weakness in the core muscles which help to support the low back during movement, lifting, and sitting.  Most lower back pain will improve within a few days or weeks, and surgery is rarely necessary; but if you don’t take care of the underlying problem, even the most minor back pain will eventually lead to longer, more painful episodes in the future.

Here are a few tips that are surprisingly effective at preventing back pain and keeping it from returning:

  • Get more exercise. If your back is hurting, you may think the best way to get relief is to limit exercise and to rest. Studies show that frequent changes in position and regular physical activity can help ease inflammation and muscle tension faster in the back. For prevention of back pain and chronic conditions, get yourself on a regular exercise program that includes core strengthening.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds, especially in your midsection, can make back pain worse by shifting your center of gravity and putting strain on your lower back. Excess fat alters the joint position of the hips and shoulders thus resulting in altered movement patterns which can increase your risk of arthritis. Staying within 10 pounds of your ideal weight may help control back pain as well as all the other health benefits.
  • Quit smoking. The nicotine in smoke restricts the flow of nutrient-containing blood to spinal discs, so smokers are especially vulnerable to back pain.
  • Sleeping position. If you’re prone to back pain, talk with our physical therapists about the best sleeping position. What is most important is to be in a comfortable position that you can sleep in to achieve the most rest. Sleeping on your side with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest with a pillow between the knees is best during the first 15-30 minutes in bed. Prefer to sleep on your back? Put one pillow under your knees and another under your lower back. Try to avoid sleeping on your front.
  • Improve your posture. Find a good chair to sit on. Avoid soft couches or chairs that put you in a slouched position. Find a chair that will allow you to keep your feet flat on the floor when you sit. With standing, try to alternate your positions and walk around if possible. Have one foot forward when standing and switch this every 10 minutes. Also, find time to get up and move regularly if you work at a desk for long hours. While you are walking around take a few moments to stretch up as tall and straight as you can.
  • Watch how you lift. Don’t bend over from the waist to lift heavy objects. Bend your knees and squat, pulling in your stomach muscles and holding the object close to your body as you stand up. Don’t twist your body while lifting. If you can, push rather than pull heavy objects. Most importantly, ask for help with lifting heavy objects – two is ALWAYS better than one!
  • Use supportive shoes. A good pair of shoes that fit properly and have good support can reduce pressure on your back. Avoid wearing high heels as they shift your center of gravity and strain your lower back.
  • Keep your wallet in your front pocket. Don’t put your wallet in the back pocket of your pants. Sitting on a wallet shifts your center of gravity and changes the alignment of your spine when sitting resulting discomfort and back pain.
  • Avoid heavy bags. If you use a briefcase or handbag, make sure you have only what you need to lighten the load. Use a bag that can strap over the opposite shoulder, so the weight is more evenly distributed. When carrying a heavy bag or case without straps, switch hands frequently to avoid putting all the stress on one side of the body.

There is a lot that you can do to prevent back pain and alleviate quickly when it starts. The important part is to work with your physical therapist to address the underlying cause of your back pain. This puts you on the right path to a healthy back that will support you pain free for a lifetime. To learn more about our back and neck program, and how we can help you attain a strong, healthy back, contact Loudoun Sports Therapy Center today at 703-450-4300!

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If you or someone you may know is suffering from knee pain, call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center at 703-450-4300, to schedule your evaluation and let us help you overcome this debilitating condition!

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