Almost everyone has to deal with back pain at one point or another. Affecting 80 percent of Americans, it is one of the most common ailments in the US. With back pain being so prevalent, there are obviously some shared, common habits we have in our lifestyles that contribute to all of that pain. We will look at a few common habits that people have that continue to provoke back pain.
It is often said that you are what you eat. The food you consume is used by your body to construct, breakdown and heal tissues so if you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs, it cannot do its job. Diets consisting of processed foods and high fat/high sugar content items can spike inflammation in the body, causing back pain. Eating cleaner foods such as lean meat proteins or beans, vegetables and good whole grains can help with inflammation and back pain.
Also, hydration is absolutely critical for your body to operate properly; making sure you are drinking enough water can help with back pain.
We are on our feet a lot; improper footwear and/or issues with the feet can cause all sorts of issues in the back. Two of the major perpetrators are high heels and flip flops. They both change the way you walk, which changes the pressures on your back and can lead to spinal issues and back pain. A study from 2010 shows that most doctors believe high heels cause an increased lordosis, or inward curve, of the lower back. The angle of the foot that is created when wearing high heels changes the physics of how you walk and can cause issues extending beyond the feet and legs. Flip flops also change how you walk by shortening your stride, which puts additional strain on the feet, hips and lower back muscles. They can cause changes to the angle of the pelvis and increase the torsion on the back, leading to more lower back pain.
I think it is well established by now that smoking is not good for your body. However, most information looks at the negative effects on the lungs or heart and doesn’t talk about your spine. In 2001, a study found that smoking decreases blood supply to the discs in the back. A decreased blood supply will lead to premature aging of the discs that act as padding in your spine and deterioration will cause back pain.
We spend between 1/4 and 1/3 of our lives in bed; it is not surprising that the mattress you choose can have serious effects on your spinal health. When you sleep on a mattress that is too soft or firm, it may feel great at first but it causes the weight and pressure on your back to be uneven, creating pressure points that can lead to misalignment and pain. Properly firm mattresses allow the spine and surrounding musculature to rest and heal overnight. Studies have shown the medium-firm mattresses are twice as likely as firm mattresses to improve back pain in people suffering from chronic lower back pain.
Electronic devices are changing the way we do things in all aspects of our lives. We have a few posts about your devices and the ways that you use that them can negatively affect your body. The major issues caused by our devices stem from the repetitive use and body positions involved with their use. Proper posture and positioning along with taking breaks can help prevent many of the typical injuries and aches that accompany a device filled world.
All of the chores around the house can really add up both mentally and physically. Most household tasks like washing dishes, cleaning, laundry, yard work, etc… involve a lot of bending at the waist that creates more stress on the back and neck. Try to bend at the knees when doing these tasks and take regular breaks when you are doing something for a long time in the same position. Yet again, a little bit of attention to your posture and ergonomics along with breaks can really help you avoid back pain down the line.