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Revolutionizing Spine Care…Changing Lives

Top Ten No-No’s for Your Back

Back pain is one of the most common complaints seen by doctors, second only to colds. In fact, 8 out of 10 people will have some sort of back problem at some point in their life, and it is the fifth most common reason for hospitalization. While many people think that aging is responsible, and sometimes it is, there are actually a multitude of causes for back pain. Because the spinal column is a significant support structure for our bodies, improper care and bad habits can lead to significant problems. Here are some of the worst things we do to our backs on a daily basis.

  1. Slouching– You probably have heard your grandmother tell you to sit up straight. Well, she’s right. You should. Proper posture is one of the most important things you can do to avoid back pain. Curving the shoulders and dropping the head down places your spine in a comma-like shape. Whether sitting or standing, try to make a mental note to keep your shoulders back and your head upright. After about 30 days, it will become a habit.
  2. Sitting– Sitting for long periods of time puts about 40% more pressure on the spine. You probably have felt the effects after a long road trip. If you work at a desk all day, make an effort to move around, get up and stretch every 30 minutes or so. Make sure that you have a supportive chair or place a rolled up towel behind your lower back. And remember not to slouch!
  3. Inactivity– Exercise, particularly yoga, is one of the best things you can do for your back. It may seem contradictory to exercise while experience back pain, but stretching and warming the back muscles can help relax muscle spasms and decrease pain. Yoga promotes deep breathing and relaxation as well as strengthens the core muscles surrounding the spine.
  4. Bending– Long periods of time spent bending or hunching over will almost certainly result in aches and pains in the back. Hobbies like gardening can take a toll on your back. Make sure to re-position yourself often and stand up and stretch periodically.
  5. Carrying– Toting around a heavy purse every day causes one shoulder to rise up, making your shoulders imbalanced and throwing your spine off-kilter. Carrying a heavy back pack, even the correct way, puts pressure on the spine and causes muscles to strain. Try to lighten your load as much as possible, and if carrying a purse, switch shoulders from time to time.
  6. Overweight– It should go without saying that any extra weight on your body puts more pressure on your back. Your spine has to support that weight on a daily basis, and it may begin to protest. People who suffer from back pain are more likely to have clogged arteries to the spine than healthy people, so eating a heart healthy diet for weight loss will also increase circulation to the spine and decrease inflammation.
  7. Sports– High impact activities, and sports that require vast amounts of hitting, falling, and jumping can put a lot of wear and tear on the body. While you generally hear of shoulder, knee, and ankle problems in athletes, back issues are actually the most complained about side effect of a life in professional sports.
  8. Shoes– High heels, worn on a regular basis or during a long period of walking, force the back to arch and make the spinal muscles work harder. But flip flops are not the solution. While wearing backless sandals, the feet tend to move from side to side and will cause body weight to be distributed unevenly. Your best bet? For long walks or days when you are on your feet a ton, flats with arch support or tennis shoes will keep your spine inline.
  9. Twisting/ reaching/ lifting: Many of us are in such a hurry in our hectic lives that we forget to take the time to lift the right way. Bending at the back instead of the knees to lift objects (or children) can wreak havoc on your back, especially when done repeatedly. The same goes for holding heavy objects away from the body or twisting to grab things. Think before you lift and save your back the extra strain.
  10. Sleeping: Sleep is the time when our bodies repair themselves, and getting a full 8 hours every night is ideal. However, sleeping on a mattress that is too firm or too soft can lead to back issues. A medium firm bed is ideal for those who suffer from back pain. If you sleep on your side, which is recommended, place a pillow between your legs to help ease any discomfort. Back sleepers should place a pillow under the knees, and stomach sleepers should use a pillow under the abdomen and hips.
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