If you’re like most people, you probably experience back pain occasionally. Maybe it’s after you’ve been moving furniture around or lifting something heavy. Perhaps it’s from sitting in the same position for too long. Or maybe it’s time to start looking at better-quality mattresses. Whatever the cause, back pain is never fun. But before you run off to call a chiropractor, here are a few reasons why you might be experiencing back pain — and what you can do about it.
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1) You Have Bad Posture
One of the most common causes of back pain is poor posture. If you’re constantly slouching or hunching over, it puts a lot of strain on your back muscles and spine. Over time, this can lead to muscle imbalances and pain. According to research, improving postural awareness can lead to reduced spinal and shoulder pain. But how do you improve your posture?
- Be aware of how you’re standing and sitting. Ensure your shoulders are down and your spine is in a neutral position.
- Strengthen your core muscles with exercises like Pilates or yoga. Stronger core muscles will help support your spine and reduce pain.
- Last, make sure you’re using proper ergonomics when working at a desk or computer. This means your chair, keyboard and monitor should be at the right height to maintain good posture.
2) You Regularly Carry Too Much Weight Improperly
Whether you work in construction or have a growing toddler, regularly carrying too much weight can lead to back pain. When you carry something heavy, your spine and muscles must work hard to keep you balanced. If you’re constantly carrying heavy objects and doing so improperly, it can lead to muscle imbalances and pain. You can do a few things to reduce the risk of back pain from carrying too much weight.
- Ensure you’re using proper form. For example, when picking up an object, bend at your knees — not your waist. Use your leg muscles to lift the object.
- Try to distribute the weight evenly. If you’re carrying a heavy load in one arm, it will throw off your balance and strain your back.
- Take breaks often if you’re carrying a lot of weight. Put the object (or child) down and give your back a rest.
- Use assistive devices. If you’re lifting something heavy regularly, consider using a back brace or straps to help distribute the weight.
3) You’re Not Getting Enough Exercise
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, it’s not surprising that you might experience back pain. When you don’t move your body, your muscles start to weaken. This can lead to imbalances and pain, especially in the lower back. According to research, people who suffer from non-specific, chronic lower back pain can find relief through regular exercise. It helps to increase muscle strength, lengthen ligaments and improve flexibility.
If you’re not used to exercising, start slowly. Begin with gentle exercises like walking or swimming. As you get stronger, you can add more challenging activities like running or weightlifting. Just be sure to listen to your body and not overdo it. If you’re dealing with pre-existing injuries, consider working with a physiotherapist to design an exercise program right for you.
4) There’s Something Wrong with Your Bed
We spend about a third of our lives asleep, so it’s essential to do what we can to ensure we’re getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep and that it benefits our health. Making sure you have the right bed and bedroom essentials can go a long way toward preventing back pain. Unfortunately, many people don’t give much thought to their mattresses until they start experiencing back pain. So if you wake up with a stiff back or sore neck, it could be because of your bed. Here are some common issues that can cause back pain:
- Your mattress is too soft – A mattress that is too soft doesn’t provide enough support for your spine and can allow your body to sink into the bed, leading to pain. Instead, look for a mattress that is firm but not too hard. Adjustable beds with a high-quality mattress are a good option because they allow you to adjust the position of your head and feet, which can take pressure off your back.
- Your pillow is too high or low for you – If your pillow is too high, it can cause your head and neck to be angled in an unnatural position. This can strain your muscles and nerves, leading to pain. On the other hand, if your pillow is too low, it won’t provide enough support for your head and neck, which can also cause pain. The best pillow for you will depend on your sleeping position. For example, side sleepers usually need a higher pillow than back sleepers. You may also have personal preferences regarding firmness, height and material. Catering to these can increase comfort, decreasing your chances of waking up with pain.
- You don’t have enough support for your back. If you’re a side sleeper, placing a pillow between your knees can help align your spine and relieve pressure on your hips and lower back. If you’re a back sleeper, placing a pillow under your knees can help take pressure off your lower back.
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Back to Basics
It’s important to take a holistic approach to your health and well-being. This means that you should pay attention to all aspects of your life, including how you sleep, eat and exercise. For example, if you’re experiencing back pain, it could be due to one (or more) of the reasons we’ve mentioned in this article. Thankfully, most cases of back pain can be treated with simple lifestyle changes and adjustments to your living and working environment. However, if your pain persists or gets worse, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any serious underlying conditions.