We all know of a relative, friend, or coworker who is plagued with back issues. Or it may even be a personal burden that we bear ourselves. Determining the exact cause of the pain can be a struggle and in the meanwhile, the discomfort and debilitation is very real. According to Orthopedic Associates in St. Louis, there are numerous ways to manage back pain and prevent further issues. Start with these tips for a stronger, healthier back:
- Sleep with a pillow.
You may already be a pillow person, but an additional pillow or cushion placed under your knees can do amazing things for your back. Sleeping on your back puts pressure on your spine. After a full day of standing tall, your spine just wants a break. So do your back a favor, and tonight, while sleeping on your back, give your knees a little pillow support.
- Wear the right shoes.
High heels, while beautiful, are not back friendly. Shoes with a heel of 1 inch or less are best. Wear comfortable shoes with proper support for a healthy back.
- Stand tall.
Good posture is more than elegant or manly, it is the proper posture for a healthy, pain-free back. Good posture gets all the ligaments, muscles, bones, and nerves in the right place, functioning properly. Poor posture places unnecessary stress on your back. This strain causes a domino effect that can even change the architecture of your back. Keep your muscles and joints working together well with good posture.
- Work those core muscles.
While we all know the benefits of exercise, perhaps a happy back is the best benefit of all. Throw out your back and suddenly even the simplest of tasks becomes a huge chore or even impossible. A regular core and lower back strength training routine can help to keep back strain and problems at bay. Incorporate core strengthening exercises into your routine at least twice a week to develop a healthy, flexible back.
- Eat Vitamin D and calcium-rich foods.
Osteoporosis is one of the most common causes of back pain, particularly for older women. Strong bones can help to prevent this. Calcium and Vitamin D help keep the bones in your spine youthful and free from osteoporosis. Make these bone-friendly foods a regular part of your diet:
- Leafy greens like bok choy and broccoli
- Low-fat cheese
- Vitamin D
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Beef liver
- Move around.
Whenever possible, move a little. Standing in one place places pressure on your back. The solution: move a little. Pace in your office, mingle at the bar, or walk in place while waiting in line.
- Say no to smoking.
Smokers are in line for many more health issues in comparison to non-smokers. A sad back is one of them. Smoking hurts your back health in a plethora of ways, but nicotine is possibly the biggest culprit. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the spine while reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood. This causes the disks in the spine to crack or rupture and a decrease in nourishment to the tendons and muscles. Bottom line: Say no to smoking if you want a healthy back.
- Lighten up.
Heavy lifting or improper posture are common causes of back pain and injury. But we all know back pain is not limited to those who work at a desk or carry heavy boxes all day. Lugging a bulky laptop, grocery haul, overstuffed baby bag or even a baby can cause you to strain your back.
Do yourself a favor and lighten that load. Carry weight evenly or shift the weight from time to time. This could mean a laptop upgrade, making more trips for those groceries, or traveling lighter. Use a backpack to distribute weight and try carrying your bag on the other shoulder.