Research from the American Chiropractic Association suggests 31 million Americans experience lower-back pain at any given time. One in two working Americans will experience symptoms of back pain every year, while 80 percent of the population will have a back problem at some point in their lifetime.
These are rather startling statistics, but the good news is that most back pain is acute. This means it can be traced back to a specific incident – like lifting a heavy box – and typically heals within a few days or weeks. But for some, back pain becomes a chronic issue (lasting three months or longer).
Whether you’re pain-free and looking to stay that way, or you’re experiencing a bout with acute or chronic discomfort, here are some different tactics and techniques you can implement today to prevent back pain at work and at home:
1. Exercise and Yoga
“Most back pain is caused by either force, repetition, or inactivity,” Dr. Samuel Davis, orthopedic surgeon specializing in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spines at Palmetto Bone & Joint explains. “You can reduce your chances of being impacted by any or all of these factors by strengthening your back and abdomen via targeted exercises.”
The goal is to strengthen your core muscles so that they’re less susceptible to being tweaked or strained in the future. If activities like walking, running, swimming, and light weightlifting aren’t possible, try yoga and stretching as good daily alternatives. Targeted activities like these can build muscle strength and mobility. (Though you should never start a new exercise routine without first consulting your doctor.)
2. Healthy Diet
A healthy lifestyle goes beyond exercise. In addition to staying physically active, you also need to pay attention to what you’re using to fuel your body.
If you’re overweight, you’re putting added pressure onto your spine and lower back. This makes you more susceptible to both acute and chronic bouts with back pain. In tandem with exercise, you should improve your diet to include fewer processed foods and more fresh and natural ingredients.
The average American diet is filled with foods that cause inflammation. (This includes refined carbohydrates, sugary sodas, fried foods, red meat, and margarine.) An anti-inflammatory diet, which is what doctors recommend, can eliminate unnecessary inflammation in the body and prevent unwanted discomfort throughout the body (including in the back). Good options include tomatoes, nuts, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, and fruits like strawberries, oranges, and blueberries.
3. Smart Workspace Ergonomics
Whether you’re currently working from home, or you find yourself in a traditional office setup, smarter workspace ergonomics can lower your chances of back pain. Top suggestions include:
- Use a standing desk to allow yourself to change positions frequently throughout the day.
- Invest in an ergonomic chair with a backrest that supports the natural curvature of your lower back. It should also feature adjustable armrests and height.
- Position your computer screen so that the top of the monitor is at eye level.
If you feel your back getting tense while working, get up and move around. Regular movement will prevent your muscles from becoming too stiff.
4. Proper Sleep Position
If you’re prone to back pain, you should pay attention to how you sleep. In addition to getting an adequate amount of sleep and choosing a supportive mattress, you should also be mindful of your sleep position.
Sleeping on your side with knees pulled up toward the chest is considered a fairly safe way to sleep. If you’re a back sleeper, try putting one pillow under your lower back and another under your knees. (It’s best to avoid sleeping on your stomach.)
5. Proper Lifting
Many back injuries are the result of improper lifting (at work or at home). Reduce your risk of injury back following these guidelines:
- Position yourself as close to the object as possible.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend at the knees (not the waist).
- Tighten the muscles in your stomach.
- Begin the lifting process with your leg muscles (slowly rising to a standing position).
If you find an object is awkwardly shaped or too heavy, don’t try lifting by yourself. It’s better to ask for help than risk injury.
Say Goodbye to Back Pain
Back pain doesn’t have to become something you deal with on a daily basis. By proactively addressing the major causes of back pain at work and at home, you can enjoy pain-free living with less frustration and discomfort. To learn more about advanced non-surgical diagnosis and treatment of back, neck, and joint pain, please contact Palmetto Bone & Joint today!