Chronic back pain is a serious problem for a great many Canadians. When back pain radiates to the legs or gets triggered by running or other activities, it can become a serious enough issue to affect your daily routine. While some forms of back pain can be caused by underlying conditions, it isn’t always the case. To name one example, prolonged sitting is a common trigger.
Sometimes the right adjustments to your daily habits can reduce back pain so you can return to your normal lifestyle. Here are a few habits you can work into your day to help beat the pain and start feeling better.
1. Avoid carrying heavy loads
These days, people typically stuff their backpacks and purses with all the things they’ll need for the day. However, in many cases, it’s become normal for many to carry around too much stuff. Unfortunately, all that weight can negatively impact your back. It’s especially concerning when kids carry excessively heavy bags. Children’s bodies are still developing and the extra weight may be detrimental to their growth.
To prevent any problems, choose the right backpack for both you and your kids and make sure it weighs no more than 10% of your body weight. Lighten your load and stick to carrying only the essentials to reduce how much weight you carry each day. When wearing a backpack, make sure you use both straps to ensure the weight is distributed evenly on your back. You can also look for backpacks with padded straps to avoid feeling the weight directly. When using single-strap bags like purses, switch arms from time to time to avoid imbalance. When carrying especially heavy loads, bring a bag with wheels instead so you can roll your things along rather than carry them on your back.
2. Adjust your posture
Good posture always matters, more so given more and more people tend to spend much of their time sitting down or hunched over computers and smartphones. Poor posture is a leading factor in causing back pain, and the first step to solving the problem is being mindful of how you carry yourself.
Take some time to fix your posture, both when you’re standing and sitting. When standing, keep your back straight, ears over your shoulders, shoulders over your hips, and hips over your ankles. When sitting, lean back to let your spine rest against the chair and avoid slouching.
Consider adjusting your desk ergonomics as well to make sitting for long periods a little easier on your back. A good chair can give plenty of support. Choose one that provides lower back support and allows you to keep your knees at 90° and let your feet rest comfortably on the floor. You can also get a footrest to give your feet another place to stay. While you’re at it, schedule regular breaks so you can get up, walk around, and stretch your muscles.
3. Stay hydrated
Make sure you drink adequate amounts of water every day. The disks in your back are mostly made up of water, so staying hydrated is a great way to help them cushion your back.
One thing you can do is invest in a portable water bottle you can take with you wherever you go. Whether you’re out jogging, going to work, or buying groceries, this allows you to have water on hand when you need it.
4. Eat healthily
Eating the right food is another way to stay healthy and minimize back pain. Problems with your digestive system like diarrhea and constipation can put pressure on your lower back.
To counter those issues, stick to a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables to avoid aggravating the back. Include more foods rich in calcium and vitamin D as well to help strengthen the bones in your spine.
Osteoporosis is another leading cause of back pain, particularly in women, but adding more dairy products, yogurt, and fish can help keep your bones healthy as you get older. A more healthy diet also helps keep your weight low, which puts less strain on your joints and muscles and keeps the back healthy.
5. Exercise your core
Exercise in general is always good for you, but it’s especially effective when you focus on strengthening your core.
A regular strength-training routine is a great way to build up the muscles near the spine and help make your back stronger and more flexible. Ideally, these workouts can also help strengthen the muscles in your back, preventing strains, sprains, and spasms that cause pain in the first place. Aim for two or three workouts a week to build up muscle and develop a stronger core.
6. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is a must for staying healthy in general. A good night’s sleep has plenty of benefits that give your body enough rest to recover physically and mentally from your daily exertions. Adequate sleep allows the body to release beneficial hormones that help heal injured muscles and fight off pain and inflammation.
There are also some things you can do to improve sleep quality and take some of the strain off your back as you do. Put a sleep support pillow under your knees when sleeping to recreate the natural curve of your spine. Elevating your legs slightly by doing so also takes the pressure off your back to help reduce any aches and pains when you get up in the morning.
While you’re at it, consider investing in a new mattress, especially if you’ve had yours for several years. Keep in mind that mattresses typically have a lifespan of roughly 10 years. A mattress has major effects on your back, and it pays to find one that gives you adequate support. Ideally, a mattress in the medium to firm range provides that support and helps the spine maintain its natural curvature.
7. Lift properly
Lifting extremely heavy loads or lifting improperly can strain your back. A good rule of thumb when lifting is to always lift with your legs. The legs are better at bearing heavy loads, so count on them to bear the weight instead of the back. Keep your back straight and the load close to your body to avoid strain. For additional safety, wear a brace to help maintain proper posture and provide more support for your back.
When you need relief from back pain, chiropractic is often a great choice to help overcome the problem. At Fairway Chiropractic Centre, we specialize in providing patient-focused care. We’re here to offer a non-invasive solution to help restore your mobility and improve your quality of life. Give us a call now at (519) 748-5535 to make an appointment.