One of the most debilitating conditions a person can suffer from is back pain. This type of pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that makes it hard to move.
Sharp and chronic pain can limit the way a person lives, and, worst of all, keep a person away from doing what he or she loves to do the most.
Back pain is a very common problem that brings great discomfort to the sufferer. In fact, back pain sends more patients to doctors than any condition other than the common cold. It is also one of the common reasons for hospitalizations and surgery.
There can be many medical reasons behind back problems, such as arthritis, injury, inflammation, fracture, nerve injury and so on. But, at the same time, many insignificant everyday habits can take a big toll on your back over time.
Here are the some daily things that are bad for your back.
1. Long Drives
Whether you need to drive for long hours to your office or some other place, long drives are not good for your back.
Hunching over a steering wheel can lead to tight chest muscles and cause your shoulders to round. This in turn can cause back pain in the coming years.
If a long commute is a must, always be conscious of your driving posture. Try to sit as straight as possible at a 90-degree angle, so that your body remains close to the wheel and there is less need to stretch. Avoid extending your leg while driving, as it puts pressure on your back.
You can also use a lumbar pillow to support the natural arch of your back.
If possible, for every 30 minutes of driving, take a 5-minute break and walk around to stretch your legs and give comfort to your back.
2. Sitting Job
Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing. In fact, for those who have a sitting job, their back has to bear a lot. It is mainly due to the poor sitting posture that most of us practice without even realizing it.
Spending most of the time in a seated position with poor posture can lead to premature degeneration of the spine and chronic back pain. Also, prolonged sitting is linked to cramps or strains in the back, especially when stretched suddenly.
A 2010 article by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports that prolonged sitting causes damage to the muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments, affecting the neck and lower back regions.
Plus, sitting for extended periods of time has been linked to several other health problems, such as obesity, blood clots, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
To reduce the damage to your back while sitting, make sure to take frequent walking breaks. For every one hour of sitting, take a 10-minute walking break.
Also, sit on a chair that supports the curve of your spine. Your lower back should be supported, and your head should be straight while working at your computer screen.
3. Love for High Heels
Ladies are crazy about high heels, as they add inches to their height and even give a boost to their confidence level.
One negative effect of wearing high heels on a daily basis is lower back pain over time.
Wearing high heels regularly causes the lower back to push forward, making the hips and spine out of alignment. This in turn can cause pain in your feet, legs as well as lower back.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine considers that both low back pain and the wearing of high-heeled-shoes are linked to each other. However, this needs further investigation.
Avoid wearing high heels for extended periods of time and keep the heel size to not more than two inches. Before and after wearing high heels, stretch your leg muscles.
Keep different types of footwear and wear different shoes every two days.
After a long hectic day on your feet, soak your feet in warm water with a little salt for 15 minutes.
4. Carrying Your Bag
Ladies especially have a habit of carrying their purse or bag on their shoulder. Even students are generally seen with their laptop bag or backpack slung around their body. This common daily habit is another big culprit for causing back pain in women as well as young adults.
When you throw a heavy bag over one shoulder, it puts excess pressure on the lower back as well as shoulder, which can cause pain over time. Carrying a bag on the same side can also permanently corrupt your posture.
Do not put excess stuff in your handbag. The heavier your handbag, the more damaging the effect can be on your back. Some people even suffer from tension headaches from the muscles being forced to do all of this heavy lifting.
Try to carry the lightest bag or purse possible. Your bag should not weigh more than 10 percent of your body weight. If needed, consider splitting your stuff in two bags and carry one in each arm.
Also, carry the bag on alternate shoulders from time to time.
Moreover, a 2014 study published in BMC Research Notes found that a majority of school students complained of musculoskeletal pain, of which 35.4 percent was attributed to the schoolbags. This is common in pupils who carry schoolbags weighing more than 10 percent of their body weight.
5. The Wrong Mattress
Most people do not think about changing their mattress, even after using it for several years. Sleeping on an old mattress as well as a wrong mattress can give trouble to your back.
Lack of support from a mattress causes poor sleeping posture, strains muscles and does not keep the spine in alignment. All these factors, in the long run, may contribute to low back pain.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good mattress lasts 9 to 10 years, but it is recommended to replace it every 5 to 7 years if you suffer from sleep problems as well as back pain.
After waking up in the morning, if you have some low back pain and you cannot get rid of it in 15 or 30 minutes after stretching, take it as a red signal. It is time to invest in a new mattress.
Opt for a mattress that provides both comfort and back support. The mattress should provide comfort to the natural curves and alignment of the spine during the night. The right amount of back support will prevent muscle soreness in the morning.
It is recommended to opt for a medium-firm mattress rather than a firm mattress to treat as well as prevent back problems.
6. Your Sleeping Posture
Personal preference and comfort rule when it comes to sleeping posture. But many times, it is the wrong sleeping posture that contributes to back pain as well as poor sleep. Disturbed sleep will only exacerbate chronic pain problems.
While asleep, you cannot control the position in which you are sleeping, but at least you can try to start in the right position.
To avoid back pain and other spinal conditions, try to sleep on your back. The fetal position also is good unless you do not tuck your knees into your chest, as it puts unnecessary pressure on the muscles of the back and spine.
You can always alter your sleep position or use pillows to keep your spine neutral. If using a pillow, keep it beneath your head and neck, not your shoulders.
A 2000 study published in the BMJ reports that low back pain and joint stiffness is markedly reduced by adopting natural sleeping and resting postures. However, more research is needed to come to a solid conclusion.
7. Workout Plan
People are realizing the importance of exercise and, in fact, many of us go to the gym in an effort to stay in shape.
But just enrolling yourself in a gym does not mean that your task is over. It is important to use proper technique when on machines or using free weights.
Doing the wrong exercise or lifting the wrong weight can quickly damage the back or wear it down over time. This can happen to anyone, including those in the best of shape.
It has been found that those who love to do sit-ups and crunches are more prone to suffer from back pain. This is because, during sit-ups and crunches, a condition of excessive compression can occur. This may result in the spine curving forward in a C-like shape and increased pain in your back.
This does not mean you should avoid sit-ups and crunches entirely. You can do them slowly and using proper form.
A perfect workout plan is one that includes different types of exercises. Try to do aerobic exercises 3 to 5 times weekly for maintaining good strength and flexibility, which are the keys to having a strong and healthy back.
8. Stress Level Not Under Control
Stress is a part of life, but it is important to keep it under control or it can cause several health problems.
In fact, both chronic and acute stress can trigger back pain. During stress, different muscles of the body clench up, including those in your neck and back. But when stress comes under control, these tight muscles eventually relax, which is important for your muscle as well as overall health.
On the other hand, when you remain constantly under stress, your neck and back muscles stay tight, which in turn can cause pain.
Stressful conditions are also known to exacerbate the symptoms of low back pain.
You can keep stress under control through exercise, meditation, deep breathing, laughing with a friend or partner, reading a good book and listening to your favorite music. If you think you are not able to keep stress under control, seek help from a professional.
Report any kind of back pain or other types of pain to your doctor. With some tests and proper analysis, a doctor can pinpoint the exact cause behind the pain and then opt for a treatment plan.