Back pain is a fact of life for many people. Research shows that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point during their lives. It is also one of the most common reasons for visits to the doctor’s office (1).
Sometimes back pain is sharp and intense, caused by a wrong movement or an injury, and heals in a few days or weeks. Others experience back pain as a chronic condition, seriously altering their ability to work and enjoy time with family, friends and other leisure activities—leading in some cases to depression.
Spinal health is an important factor in preventing back pain as well as maintaining overall health and well-being. Things such as better nutrition, exercise, ergonomic workspaces and proper lifting and movement techniques can go a long way in helping people to strengthen their spines and potentially avoid serious injury and chronic pain.
The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks and irritate joints—all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements like picking up a pencil from the floor, can have painful results.
Treatment for back pain has come a long way. It was once believed that taking pain medication and getting some rest and relaxation were the best course of action for a low back pain, but now there are more conservative options for drug-free pain management while remaining as active as possible (2).
To help take off back pain or ease the pain you already experience, here are some suggestions to follow in your daily life:
1. Stand up straight.
When standing, keep your back straight and distribute your weight evenly between your toes and heels.
2. Use proper lifting technique.
When picking something up, take a wide stance and bend using your knees and hips instead of bending from the waist.
3. Don’t cross your legs.
When sitting, make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Crossing your legs puts pressure on your lower back.
4. Practice good computer posture.
When working at the computer, make sure the computer screen is at eye level so that you don’t tilt your chin up. If you use a laptop, prop it up so that the screen is at eye level and set up an external keyboard and mouse that allows your elbows to sit at a 90 degree angle.
5. Lighten your load.
When carrying a bag or purse, make sure that you’re carrying less than 10 percent of your body weight. If you need to carry heavy items, place them toward the bottom of the bag and alternate your bag between shoulders throughout the day.
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