According to a report from the Global Burden of Disease, approximately 7.5% of the entire global population—a staggering 577.0 million people—suffer from lower back pain. Back pain is undoubtedly a widespread condition that most people will experience at some point in their lives.
But did you know that back pain is also an easily preventable medical condition? You can take preventative measures to prevent it from adversely affecting your daily life.
There are also several practices that can significantly increase your risk of suffering from debilitating back conditions such as osteoarthritis, degenerative disc diseases, or herniated discs. Here are some of the bad habits that you should abstain from so you can preserve the health of your back:
#1. Sleeping on the Wrong Mattress
If your mattress is already sagging, it’s time to buy a new one. A sagging mattress is one of the top reasons for general body stiffness and back pain. The sagging areas make it impossible for you to maintain a good sleeping posture since some parts of your body or neck may be sinking into the mattress instead of being properly supported.
Before buying a new mattress, check the store’s return policy. Make sure that they let you return a mattress if it causes back pain or other issues. The right mattress will depend on your sleeping position and whether or not you already have a back problem. Choose one that is soft enough to fit your body’s contours, but also firm enough to support your back.
#2. Sleeping on Your Belly
Avoid sleeping on your belly, especially if you’re already suffering from back pain. This sleeping position can strain both your lower back and neck. If you’re already used to sleeping on your belly and would rather not switch, go pillow-free or use a very soft one to keep your neck in the proper position.
In general, side sleepers fare better when it comes to avoiding back pain. If you’re going to sleep on your side, sleep with a pillow between your legs, then tuck them toward your chest to take the pressure off your back and hips. If you’re sleeping on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees.
#3. Sitting Hunched
Poor sitting postures can strain your neck, spine, and back muscles. In fact, the stress that poor posture puts on your spine can actually lead to changes in its shape and curvature. Here are some great tips to help you maintain proper posture while you’re sitting:
- Choose a chair that offers ample support for your back.
- Adjust the chair height so your feet are naturally resting on the floor. Use a footrest if the height isn’t adjustable.
- Sit with your hips slightly higher than your knees.
- Keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
- If you’re trying to break your bad sitting habits, set checkpoints multiple times a day to make sure you’re not accidentally slipping back into your previous poor posture.
No matter how comfortable you are on your chair, sitting for long stretches still isn’t good for your back. Get up and move around every 30 minutes to give your body a break.
#4. Lack of Exercise
You’re more likely to suffer from back pain if you’re active. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles have to be kept healthy and strong through exercise; otherwise they’ll degenerate or weaken.
Here are some exercises for back pain prevention:
- Core strengthening activities like planking or crunches can increase the stability of your back muscles. A weak core can make you arch your lower back more often, causing more stress and pain in that area over time.
- Low-impact cardiovascular exercises cycling and swimming can help protect spinal discs.
- Day-to-day activities such as walking, carrying groceries, and climbing the stairs can also help keep your muscles strong and healthy.
#5. Exercising with Incorrect Form
Back injuries can occur when you try to exercise using the incorrect form. Below are some common workouts and how you can perform them properly:
- If you’re lifting heavy objects, bend your knees and keep the weight close to your body. Use your leg power to straighten up and avoid twisting. Keep your head down and your back straight.
- For sit-ups, make sure that you don’t flatten your spine’s natural curve. This means that you shouldn’t let your hip flexor muscles—which connect your lower back and thighs—bear all the pressure.
- Most people let their knees fall in or out when they’re doing squats. This can cause undue stress on your joints. To prevent this, keep your knees in line with your second toes.
It becomes tougher to hold the proper form towards the end of your workout, when you’re more fatigued. This is why it’s always a good idea to do two to three repetitions less than your estimated maximum to ensure good form throughout.
Suffering from Back Pain? Call Thunder Basin Orthopaedics
Having a competent, attentive, and dependable orthopaedic team on your side means the difference between a speedy, sustainable recovery and prolonged injury that has lasting repercussions.
From our two locations in Douglas and Gillette, Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine has served clients with prestigious care, compassionate service, and cutting-edge surgical technologies for years.
We specialize in treating various orthopaedic conditions including sports injuries, fractures and other traumatic injuries, degenerative joint disease, sprains, strains, tears, and more. Where possible, we also employ minimally invasive surgical techniques that produce the best outcomes while minimizing your downtime.
If you’re currently experiencing pain or beginning to feel discomfort during your workout or even your daily routine, request an appointment today!