Four Common Causes of Back Pain (and How to Prevent Them)
By Brian Acton
Back pain is a common reason for doctor visits and one of the biggest causes of disability worldwide. But many of the top causes of back pain are avoidable. Knowing the common causes of back pain (and how to prevent them) can keep your back healthy and pain-free.
Here are four top causes of back pain, and how to prevent them.
- Weekend Injuries
If you lead a sedentary lifestyle most of the time, it’s easy to injure yourself playing with your kids or at a pickup basketball game on the weekend. You can also injure your back doing yard work, cleaning out the garage, or with any other activity you don’t often perform - especially if you’re usually idle.
To prevent back injury, you should make your body accustomed to exercise (the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week). You can also stretch and strengthen your core using back strengthening exercises
, which condition your muscles to support your spine and withstand stress. Regular exercise will help your body better resist injury.
- Improper Lifting Technique
Whether you’re taking out the trash or hauling boxes around at work, improper lifting technique can cause injury and back pain. Using your back to carry a heavy load puts too much stress on your muscles and spine.
Lift heavy objects close to your body, bending your knees and setting your legs apart. Make sure to engage your abdominal and leg muscles as you lift. When you’re walking and carrying, turn your entire body when you need to change direction. Twisting to the side can cause injury.
- Excessive Sitting
The negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle are well documented
and common in the age of the office job. Sitting too much puts stress on the muscles and discs in your back and neck. It also can lead to hip flexor tightness and reduced blood flow to your glutes, which help support your spine.
You should get up from the couch or office chair on a regular basis to get some exercise. This will help your back and combat the other negative effects of prolonged sitting. You can up a periodic reminder to get up and exercise.
Good posture promotes spinal stability and strength. But when you slouch or stoop, you could be setting yourself up for back pain.
You should be standing straight and tall, with your shoulders back. Your feet should be set about shoulder width apart, with your weight balanced on the balls of your feet. When sitting down, you should be sitting up straight with your feet resting flat on the floor in front of you. The top of your head should be pointed toward the ceiling, with your shoulders relaxed.