If you experience back pain on a regular basis, it may have something to do with your lifestyle. Certain factors like posture and stress can aggravate existing back pain or increase your risk of back injury.
To help you relieve your pain and improve your overall health and well-being, here are a few common lifestyle habits that can lead to a sore back—and what to do about them.
You’re probably already aware that smoking can contribute to a number of health problems, from lung cancer to heart disease. But most people don’t realize that this habit is also connected to back pain, giving you another great reason to quit.
In fact, smoking can triple your risk of developing lower back pain. That’s because cigarette smoke thickens your blood vessel walls, restricting blood flow and slowing down your body’s healing process. This means you’ll recover more slowly from any back injuries, so that pain will stick around for longer.
A sedentary lifestyle
It can be hard to stay active all day, especially if you work a desk job. But sitting down for long periods of time can trigger back pain and make existing pain worse.
When you don’t exercise, your spinal discs become malnourished and start to degenerate. Luckily, even a short walk every day can help negate the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Of course, a regular exercise routine is even better, but everyone has to start somewhere. Try setting a timer to remind you each hour that it’s time for a little walk—even if it’s just round the block and back.
Speaking of sitting, the way you sit can play an important role in your back’s health. Slouching or leaning forward in your chair can strain your spinal discs and ligaments, which often causes or exacerbates aches and pains. Sit up straight, avoid perching on the edge of your seat, and consider investing in a chair with proper lumbar support.
Carrying extra weight around the mid-section tends to put stress on the lower back. Being overweight can also increase your risk of sustaining injuries like herniated discs and pinched nerves, and wear-and-tear conditions like osteoarthritis. Taking small steps like exercising more, avoiding fatty or sugary foods, and drinking more water can help you lose weight and give your back the support it needs.
When you’re feeling under stress, your muscles tighten up, leading to pain in your back. Stress can also keep you awake at night, and since your body performs vital maintenance work while you rest, back pain can linger longer when you don’t get your beauty sleep.
If you’re experiencing high levels of stress, try getting some exercise to work that tension out of your muscles. You’ll feel more relaxed and calmer afterwards, and your back will thank you. Take 10 minutes out of every day to go for a brisk walk, and consider stress-relieving activities like yoga or deep breathing. Stress is bad enough without back pain, so explore the self-care methods that work for you.
If chronic back pain is holding you back from embracing a full and active life, we want to help. At the Spine & Joint Center, we specialize in alternative treatment options that have helped many patients find long-lasting relief. To find out more, contact us today.