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Health and Fitness News

Watch Your Back!

You’re at an increased risk for back pain if you do these seven habits.

One of the most common complaints heard by doctors around the world, back pain is a leading cause of short- and long-term disability. The pain may feel aching, stabbing, or shooting; it may start in your back and extend down your leg; and it may worsen when you walk, stand, lift, or bend. Whatever the symptoms, back pain often makes everyday activities challenging and reduces your quality of life.

While some back pain is caused by disc problems in your spine, skeletal conditions, arthritis, or osteoporosis, many cases of back pain are the result of simple things you do each day that put your back at risk for injury.
As you go about your daily life, be mindful of the following activities which can harm your back.

Heavy Baggage

Carrying around a heavy purse, briefcase, or backpack can lead to a shoulder imbalance. This happens because the shoulder carrying the baggage naturally rises, which makes your spine curve and your back ache. Reduce the likelihood of this by making sure your bag weighs less than 10 to 20 percent of your body weight. Kids should carry their backpack using both straps and women should alternate which shoulder they carry their purse.

Poor Posture

Sitting or standing hunched over for long periods of time can harm your back. Whether sitting at a computer or behind the wheel all day, make sure you maintain good posture. For good posture, your feet should be flat on the floor and your knees in line with your hips. Your hips should sit at the back of the chair and the chair should be slightly reclined. The computer monitor should be an arm’s length from your body and slightly above eye level. Keep your shoulders relaxed but not raised or rounded forward. Get up and move around at regular

Lack of Exercise

When was the last time you exercised? Strong, flexible back muscles are needed to prevent injury and to heal back pain. This is one reason why exercise is so important. People who don’t exercise are more likely to suffer back pain. Plan to do strength-training exercises and low-impact exercises like biking, swimming, or walking on a regular basis.

An Old Mattress

If you wake up each morning feeling stiff and achy, your mattress may be to blame. Since mattresses lose support over time, it’s best to get a new mattress every 10 years. To keep your back in alignment as you sleep, get a mattress that’s soft enough to be comfortable and shape to your body, but firm enough to provide support.

Sitting Too Long

Poor posture and lack of exercise aren’t the only threats to your back health. Simply sitting too long can also cause harm to your back. As you sit, you’re placing pressure on the discs in your lower back, reducing their blood supply, and limiting waste removal. Over time, tension builds up and back pain sets in. Set an alarm every half hour to remind yourself to get up and move around, stretch, or do a few exercises.

High Heels

The wrong pair of shoes can wreak havoc on your back. High heels are especially harmful to your back, though any non-supportive shoe can cause damage if worn while walking long distances. Wear shoes with heels shorter than one inch, or at least wear supportive shoes while walking on your commute.

Sleep Position

Your mattress isn’t the only sleepy-time threat to your back. Pain can also arise due to your chosen sleep position. Sleeping on your back or stomach seems to aggravate back problems, so do your best to stay off either. Instead, try the best position for pain-free mornings by sleeping on your side with your back straight and a thin pillow in between your legs.