Everyday Habits That Are Hurting Your Back

hurt back

hurt back

(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.

6. Your Mattress Is Too Old
A good mattress lasts 9 to 10 years, according to the National Sleep Foundation, but consider replacing yours every 5 to 7 years if you don’t sleep well or your back throbs. A study at Oklahoma State University found that most people who switched to new bedding after 5 years slept significantly better and had less back pain.

Fix It: When you do replace your mattress, take a Goldilocks approach: Pick one that’s not too squishy or too hard. Very firm mattresses can increase pressure on the spine and worsen pain. To help ease nighttime discomfort even more, tuck a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back, between your knees if you’re a side sleeper, or beneath your stomach and hips if you snooze on your belly.

7. You Have a Thing for High Heels
Or flip-flops. Both lead to foot instability, which can in turn affect your back. High heels force you to arch your back, making your spinal muscles work harder. Backless shoes like sandals cause your feet to move from side to side, according to Sinett, which distributes your body weight unevenly and can cause pain.

Fix It: You don’t have to forgo trendy footwear—just don’t walk long distances in them. Commute in comfy flats or supportive sneakers, and consider adding cushioning inserts to uncomfy shoes.

8. You Hold a Grudge
To err is human. To forgive could make your aching back feel simply divine.

Fix It: Forgiveness isn’t a once-and-done act; it involves choosing, again and again, to replace anger and resentment with understanding toward someone who has done you wrong. Try this: First imagine someone you love. Think, May this person be at ease, happy, healthy, safe, and secure. Repeat, imagining yourself, then someone you don’t know personally. Finally, bring to mind someone for whom you don’t have good feelings.

9. You Too Stressed
It’s not all in your head—chronic or acute stress can directly trigger back pain. If you’re stressed all the time and those muscles stay tight, it can eventually cause major pain.

Fix It: Sometimes even just realizing that stress may be at the root of your pain can help, says Sinett. Then you can prioritize ways to calm down each day, be it through exercise, laughing with a friend or partner, reading a good book, etc. One particularly helpful therapy, research shows, is listening to music.

10. You Watch Too Much TV
Parking yourself in front of the tube for hours and hours a day doesn’t make your back very happy.

Fix It: Limit TV to shows you really want to watch, instead of idly channel surfing. And instead of fast-forwarding through commercials, do some stretches or strength moves during the breaks, which will prevent muscle strain from sitting still too long.

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