You don’t have to “just live with” back pain, especially if your pain is at a level that prevents you from taking part in the activities of daily living. Unfortunately, many people decide to “manage” their pain only by treating the symptoms with occasional, over-the-counter medication. When they choose this path, they may be limiting their activity unnecessarily.
You can choose a different path, beginning with some basic steps. The first of these is learning how to prevent back pain. As you educate yourself, however, make sure your information comes from an experienced and reliable source, such as a spine specialist.
Regular Physical Activity Can Actually Help
Perhaps the best way to prevent back pain is to start building the strength of your back muscles, then keep them strong in the right way. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you can follow these steps to “protect your back from further problems and prevent back pain:
- Stretch and perform back-strengthening exercises at least three days a week.
- Pay attention to your posture when standing and sitting. Do your best to sit up straight.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you must do some lifting, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Let your leg muscles to do the work.
- Maintain an active lifestyle.
- Eat a balanced diet to help keep excess weight off.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Nearly 80% of Americans will experience back pain in their lifetime. You are even more likely to experience back pain and discomfort if you are overweight, have poor posture, and aren’t physically active. Focus on these simple elements and you should have success in preventing future back pain and keeping back pain to a minimum.
It also helps to understand the two types of back pain:
- Acute – lasts a few days or even a few weeks. This type of pain is often caused by a slip-and-fall or as a result of improper lifting.
- Chronic – lasts for more than three months, but it can usually be treated without surgery.
Have Your Doctor Help You Determine the Ideal Sleeping Position
This is a very brief look at sleeping positions. Sleeping position is an important factor you should discuss with your family doctor or your spine specialist. It may be a crucial step in learning how to prevent back pain. Your doctor will help determine which of the following positions is ideal for you:
- Supine (flat on back) – helpful for sufferers of chronic back, neck, shoulder, hip, or sciatica pain.
- Left side (lateral) – may prevent snoring, sleep apnea; pain on right side
- Right side (lateral) – may prevent snoring, sleep apnea; pain on left side
- Prone (on stomach) – can help relieve muscle or skeletal pain
Practice Proper Lifting Techniques When Picking Up Heavy Items
If you are experiencing back pain, you probably shouldn’t be lifting objects of any weight, especially if those objects are heavy. If you must lift, you should use the stronger leg muscles and bend your knees. As you have learned, it’s best to keep the back straight during any lifting activity. Once you have lifted an object, hold it close to your body as you carry it.
Stretch your legs, arms, and back before you start lifting. Be aware of your physical limits, because your “safe” weight for lifting is usually less than you think it is. Use a wheeled “dolly” or forklift instead. Use the steps outlined above to stay active and flexible. Don’t rely on a support belt or device to protect you.
Don’t be misled by thinking you have to suffer through the years. Start taking steps now to prevent back pain. If you need further assistance, the experts at The Spine Center are here to help. Get in touch today to learn more about back pain prevention or to schedule a consultation.