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‘You’re only as old as your back!’ 

Precision Orthopedics By Precision
January 24, 2023 | Back & Neck Pain

‘You’re only as old as your back!’ 

A phrase that has haunted us since back in the day when we thought: ‘Ah! This doesn’t apply to me, my back is as strong as oak!’.

But slowly, as the years have crept on, and the hours spent at a desk have built up, back pain catches up to us all. And we’re not exaggerating here! 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Which is an astonishing percentage. However, while it can be difficult to completely prevent, there are many steps you can take to help manage and relieve back pain, thus increasing your overall quality of life.

Starting with posture! Poor posture is an extremely common cause of back pain. Especially when a lot of us spend long hours seated at a desk. Regularly keep yourself in check by setting posture reminders on your desktop or cell phone. Avoid slouching or leaning to one side, and try to keep your head and neck in line with your spine. Use a chair with good lumbar support and adjust the height so that your feet are flat on the ground and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Your monitor should be adjusted too! Position the monitor so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level, with the middle of the screen at a slight downward angle. Keep the monitor at least 20 inches (51 cm) away from your eyes, which is about the distance of an arm’s length.

Get moving! Regular exercise can help strengthen those ever-important muscles in your back, which can help to prevent back pain overall. It’s important to choose exercises that are appropriate for your fitness level and to start slowly, gradually increasing the intensity and duration as you become more comfortable. Some good exercises for the back include yoga, Pilates, and swimming. For more information about getting your exercise game in gear, check out our Motivation to Move article right here!

Nail that lift! Lifting heavy objects improperly can strain the muscles in your back and cause back pain, or even injury. To lift safely, bend your knees and lift with your legs, keeping the object close to your body, and your back straight. Avoid twisting or turning while lifting, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if the object is too heavy.

Don’t always throw in the towel! If you are experiencing mild back pain, bed rest may seem like the best option, but in reality, it can actually make the pain worse. Gentle activities such as walking or stretching can help to alleviate pain and improve mobility. Of course, always consult your GP before taking those steps (literally). 

Get hot, get cold! Heat and cold therapy can be effective in relieving back pain. Heat therapy, such as using a heating pad or taking a warm bath, can help to relax tight muscles and increase blood flow. While cold therapy, such as using an ice pack, can help to reduce inflammation as well as numb the pain. Again, bring this up with your doctor first to find the best option for you and your specific condition. 

Professionals are there to help! Massages and chiropractic care can help to prevent or alleviate back pain by reducing muscle tension and improving overall mobility. Massage therapists and chiropractors can use a variety of techniques to relieve pain, including deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, and spinal adjustments. They can also suggest the best home care to reduce future back pain issues, so be sure to take note!

Don’t forget to destress. Believe it or not, stress and anxiety can be contributing factors to back pain. By practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, you can help to reduce overall stress levels while improving your general well-being. For more tips on reducing stress, check out our stress-reducing article right here!

Watch what you eat… Easier said than done, we know… But a healthy diet can help reduce BMI and total body weight, which is less weight on your back! Aim for a diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins while avoiding processed and sugary foods, which can contribute to inflammation, pain, and unwanted weight gain. 

Catch those Z’s! Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and can help to alleviate, or even totally eradicate, back pain. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night for those between 18 and 64 years old. A consistent sleeping schedule ties into this too. Create a bedtime routine that works best for you to ensure you’re reaching the recommended number of z’s. 

Of course, a conversation with your GP or orthopedic specialist can provide all the information necessary in reducing and preventing back pain. You’ll be surprised at the difference some minor lifestyle changes can make to your back health and, consequently, your overall well-being.