10 Ways to Prevent Back Pain
HealthCentral Editorial Team Sep 28, 2012 (updated Oct 16, 2013)
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Avoid intense activity
Avoid intense exercise and physical activity, particularly heavy lifting and trunk twisting, if there is acute back pain.
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Use supports when lifting heavy objects
Supportive back belts, braces, or corsets may help some people temporarily, but these products can reduce muscle tone over time and should be used only briefly.
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Yoga relieves low back pain better than conventional exercise or self-help books, according to a studies. Exercise strengthens the core, leading to fewer back injuries or pain.
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Smokers are at higher risk for back problems, perhaps because smoking decreases blood circulation. The link may also be due to an unhealthy lifestyle in general. A British study found that young adults who were long-term smokers were nearly twice as likely to develop low back pain as nonsmokers were.
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Have an active lifestyle
People who do not exercise regularly face an increased risk for low back pain, especially when they perform sudden, stressful activities such as shoveling, digging, or moving heavy items. Lack of exercise leads to stiff muscles, weak core that can increase strain on the back and weak back muscles can lead to disk degeneration. Obesity also puts more weight on the spine and increases pressure on the vertebrae and disks.
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Improper or excessive exercise may also increase one's chances for back pain. High impact exercise may increase risk for disk degeneration over time.
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Maintaining good posture is very important. This means keeping the ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line with the head up and stomach pulled in. It is best not to stand for long periods of time. If it is necessary, walk as much as possible and wear shoes without heels, preferably with cushioned soles. Use a low foot stool and alternate resting each foot on top of it.
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Choose the right chair
Sitting puts the most pressure on the back. Chairs should either have straight backs or low-back support. If possible, chairs should swivel to avoid twisting at the waist, have arm rests, and adjustable backs. While sitting, the knees should be a little higher than the hip, so a low stool or hassock is useful to put the feet on. A small pillow or rolled towel behind the lower back helps relieve pressure while either sitting or driving.
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Choose a different bag
Carrying the biggest bag is probably not the right decision for your back. Heavy bags can cause serious damage to the neck and back; a bag worn only on one side of the body can cause muscle and joint asymmetry.
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Use good form when lifting
Spread your feet apart to give yourself a wide base. Bend at the knees, not the waist. Use the quads and butt to lift; stand up without bending forward at the waist. Of course, if an object is too heavy, find help!