At any given point, 31 million Americans are suffering from lower back pain. Your lower back moves in six different directions, making it mobile and flexible, but also quite vulnerable to injury.
This doesn’t mean you’re inevitably going to experience low back pain. A few smart lifestyle changes can help keep your low back healthy and fully functioning.
Move objects smartly
Poor mechanics when lifting or moving heavy objects can cause injury to your back, like muscle strains. When you pick up a heavy box, for example, you should lift with your legs — not your back. Squat down to pick up the item rather than hinging forward from your waist.
Also, consider how you slide heavy items. If possible, opt for pushing rather than pulling. Stand close behind the object and push with engaged abdominal muscles and the power of your arms. Avoid leaning forward or bending your back as you push.
Drive defensively and comfortably
Instead of aggressively speeding, switching lanes, and cutting into traffic — potentially causing a wreck — learn to be the skillful driver who can maneuver their way out of a serious situation on the road. Car accidents can cause trauma that can lead to short-term and long-term back pain.
When you take long car (or airplane) rides, make a habit of carrying a lumbar support pillow and pack lightly and smartly so as not to strain your back with heavy bags. Take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your hips and back, even if that means taking longer to get to your destination.
Reform your unhealthy habits
Smoking can increase your risk of lower back pain. It reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the bones and soft tissue of the area. This denial of nutrients causes degeneration and subsequent back pain.
Quit smoking or, better yet, never start to begin with. Reach out to the team at Advanced Spine and Pain if you need help kicking the habit.
Drinking too much alcohol raises your levels of inflammation, which also contributes to pain. You don’t have to pass up the drinks altogether, just moderate your intake. Stick to just one or two drinks per day.
Keep an eye on the scale
Your goal isn’t to become supermodel skinny; it’s to keep your weight in a healthy range, so you aren’t putting extra stress on your back.
Make it a habit to eat healthily and keep your portions in check. Plus, get up and move regularly during the day. It helps you burn calories to maintain your weight and encourages mobility in your spine.
Avoid slumping and slouching, especially over your computer if you have a desk job. Stand regularly to stretch your legs, hips, and back. When you sit, make sure the chair allows your knees to be about hip height, the computer monitor at eye level, and the desktop just above your waist.
Until you amend your lifestyle to support a healthy back, consult Advanced Spine and Pain to help you manage low back pain and get you on the road to good health.