According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), back pain will affect about 80 percent of us at some point in our lives. It is the most frequent medical complaint doctors hear. Back pain is often caused by everyday bad habits that stress and strain your muscles and joints. So, let’s look at some common habits that may be contributing to chronic back pain.
- Sitting for an extended period. The bad news is your sitting position can put pressure on your spine. Maintaining your posture is really important. That is why they say you should always sit straight. Sitting for long periods without taking standing or walking breaks puts pressure on the discs in the lower back. The discs are unable to perform properly because they are squeezed together, creating tension in the lower back that causes pain.
- Wearing the wrong shoes. Wearing the wrong shoes while exercising or walking around in heels over an inch tall are some of the most common culprits for backache. Wearing heels taller than one inch can create pressure in the back by changing the normal curvature of the spine which can force a person to arch his or her back. This makes the back muscles work harder. Shoes that are too flat are just as bad as shoes with high heels. Shoes should provide appropriate support that helps the spine maintain a comfortable and normal position.
- Maintaining bad posture. In the age of technology, poor posture is common. People are looking down at their smartphones for hours and sitting with rounded shoulders and bent necks at their desks. Poor posture can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. Over time, the stress of poor posture can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine.
- Twisting the spine. People tend to twist their spine during various activities, like lifting objects out of a car trunk, golfing, and picking up young children or heavy boxes. Twisting the spine is a top reason people experience neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine) pain because these are the spinal areas most involved in the twisting motion. Pain due to twisting and bending is frequently from muscle and/or ligament strains or sprains or a disc tear that develops.
- Smoking. Smoking has been identified as a contributor to spine and tissue degeneration. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the discs that cushion your vertebrae and increases the rate of degeneration. This loss of cushioning can cause back pain. Smoking reduces the absorption of calcium and prevents new bone growth, leaving smokers with an increased risk for osteoporosis and slower healing after bone fractures, which can cause back pain. Additionally, coughing from heavy smoking can cause back pain.
- Lack of regular exercise. Your body needs regular movement, otherwise, your body becomes stiff and can contribute to backache. Back muscles, tendons and ligaments will weaken if not kept healthy and strong through exercise. The failure to perform any exercise, particularly core strengthening exercises, may lead to poor posture and increased low back pain.
- Sleeping on a sagging mattress. An old, sagging mattress can cause back pain and general body stiffness as it is impossible to maintain good posture while sleeping because one or more sections of the body are sagging with the mattress or the neck is not properly supported. The neck and rest of the spine should always be in a neutral position. If you sleep on your back or stomach, this may also be exacerbating your pain.
- Persistent stress. Stress causes neck and back muscles to stay clenched. Muscles are supposed to contract and relax. If they seldom relax, there is a good chance back pain will develop.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra pounds strains the muscles and bones in the back. Being overweight, especially in the mid-section, shifts your entire center of gravity forward and puts additional strain on your back muscles.
- Poor nutrition. The spine and soft tissues in the back need good nutrients. Following a healthy meal plan ensures the muscles, ligaments, tendons and circulatory system are properly nourished to promote healing while reducing the chances of inflammation.
Back pain affects millions of people across the U.S. While it may be common, it’s important to reflect on yourself to determine what ways you can reduce your pain. With small lifestyle changes, you can break bad habits and help say goodbye to your back pain.
With 14 clinics across west Tennessee offering physical, occupational and speech therapy, Sports Plus Rehab Centers are not only conveniently located close to you, but can also help you make some lifestyle adjustments that can help break habits that cause back pain. Find a Sports Plus location today.