Chronic Back Pain is one of the most common ailments recorded by medical professionals in the UK, the USA and Canada, with an estimated 50% of the adult population suffering from back pain at some stage in their lives.
Often caused by an accident or injury, back pain is often unavoidable, and it can happen to us all, but there are things we can do to reduce the risk of chronic back pain, and by implementing just a few changes into our daily routine, we can strengthen our back, improve our overall health, stop taking prescription pain relief medications, and make a step towards a healthier back and a happy pain-free life.
Step 1 to a Healthier Back: Physical Activity
A sedentary lifestyle can lead to all kinds of health problems, with chronic back pain being the most common. Staying active throughout the day can be difficult, especially if your job requires you to sit at a computer or work station, but it is possible to incorporate physical activity into your daily life, and you can start with simple tasks such as taking the stairs rather than the lift, getting off your bus/train one stop earlier and walking to work, and taking a brisk walk during your lunch break.
Regular exercise such as Yoga, Pilates, swimming, cycling, weight training can strengthen the core and improve posture, which in return can ease back pain and prevent further episodes, so try to exercise at least 2 or 3 times per week, see it as a health reward rather than a punishment, and chronic back pain could soon be a thing of the past.
Step 2 to a Healthier Back: Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying too much weight can put a huge amount of pressure on the spine, increasing the risk of ruptured disks, nerve conditions such as sciatica, and strained back muscles, all of which are very painful conditions. By maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index), you can relieve pressure on your spine and reduce the risk of chronic back pain.
A healthy diet rich in vitamin D, calcium, fresh fruit, vegetables and lean proteins, combined with physical activity, will help you maintain a healthy weight and keep back pain at bay.
Step 3 to a Healthier Back: Quit Smoking
We all know that smoking is bad for us, but did you know that smoking could be one of the causes of your chronic back pain? Research shows that nicotine can contribute to back pain in several different ways, and that smokers generally have more episodes of chronic back pain than those who do not smoke.
Smoking limits blood flow and nutrients to the disks and vertebrae, and it can also increase the rate of bone loss, which is why many smokers suffer from osteoporosis and the back pain associated with the condition.
Step 4 to a Healthier Back: Avoid Heavy Lifting
Heavy lifting and carrying bulky items is one of the easiest ways to cause a back injury, and so if your job involves heavy lifting of any kind, it is essential that you lift correctly, use lifting equipment wherever possible, and if necessary, make more journeys to reduce the weight of the load.
You should always bend your knees when lifting, no matter how heavy the object, and if you start to feel the strain, stop immediately and get help. A back strain can cause chronic back pain for months, so avoid heavy lifting at all costs.
Step 5 to a Healthier Back: Develop Good Habits
Our backs are pushed to the max every day. Simple tasks such as sitting at a computer, ironing, hoovering, and even getting out of bed can put a huge amount of strain on the back, and if we don’t do it right, we can develop a back injury or backache in no time. For a healthy back, it is essential that you develop good habits such as bending from the knees and waist, avoid sitting or standing in the same position for too long, maintain a good posture at all times, and stretch regularly to keep your body mechanics perfectly aligned.