(BlackDoctor.org) — 56% of people with lower-back aches say symptoms disrupt their daily routines, including sleep and sex. Not only that, but it’s the fifth most common reason for hospitalizations and third most common cause of surgery. Talk about a pain in the…back.
There are many possible causes of back pain, and several situations combine to create that pain. And it turns out that some seemingly insignificant everyday habits can take a big toll on your back over time. Here are some of the top ten mistakes that may be causing your aches and how to correct them.
1. You’re Glued To Your Desk
Did you know that sitting puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing? Maintaining proper posture is probably the last thing you’re thinking about when under a major work deadline, but back muscles will weaken if you don’t use them, and inactive joints lose lubrication and age more quickly.
Fix It: Sitting at a 135-degree angle can reduce compression of the discs in the spine, so lean back slightly every now and then. Do it when you take a phone call or a coworker stops by to chat. Make sure your office chair supports the curve of your spine and your lower back. Also, get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every half hour.
2. You Have a Long Commute
Just like at your desk, hunching over a steering wheel can tighten chest muscles and cause your shoulders to round. A slumping posture can zap energy and make you look heavier, not to mention cause back and neck problems.
Fix It: “Be sure you sit at a 90-degree angle, close to the wheel so you don’t have to stretch,” he says. “Extending your leg puts your back in a compromised position, but many people don’t even realize they’re doing it.”
3. You’re Not Working Out
Get moving to alleviate aches and pains and fix back pain faster. New research shows that 40% of people become less active after back pain strikes—a strategy that’s likely to delay healing or even make their condition worse.
Fix It: In fact, most sufferers would benefit from more exercise—particularly frequent walks, which ease stiffness, says spine surgeon Raj Rao, MD. For instant relief, he recommends stretching your hamstrings and hips. Moves like these will take some strain off your back. Also, try doing some yoga, as it helps to improve circulation and lower stress.
4. You’re Not The Healthiest Eater
Research shows that eating habits that are good for your heart, weight, and blood sugar are also good for your back. Healthy circulation brings nutrients to the spine and removes waste, says Sinett. If this doesn’t happen, inflammation can result, and inflammatory chemicals in the back can trigger nerves to send pain signals to the brain.
Fix It: A back-healthy diet is one that reduces inflammation. Avoid excess caffeine and processed foods (read ingredient labels for the following: hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, enriched wheat flour, words ending in –ose, and additives that end in –ates or -ites). Eat more whole grains, soy, nuts and seeds, protein (chicken, fish, lean meat), vegetables, and fruit.
5. You Carry Your Entire Life In Your Purse
A stuffed handbag may cause back damage that’s comparable to a sports injury! When you tote a heavy bag, your shoulders become imbalanced, says Sinett. Your body elevates the shoulder carrying the bag, which throws your spine off – doing this every day can cause back muscles to ache over time.
Fix It: First, carry the lightest bag possible. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your bag—when fully loaded—weighs no more than 10% of your body weight. Alternate which shoulder you carry the bag with from day to day, and consider splitting your stuff between two bags (one for each arm), which will painproof your load by distributing it more evenly.