Ways to Prevent Back Pain

Back pain is a common health problem. It not only leads to physical disability but it can be expensive. According to the National Institutes of Health, the cost for an adult with back problems is approximately $6,000 per year. Read ahead for steps you can take to keep your back strong and healthy.

Smiling woman taking swim lesson from male instructor.

Get in the pool

When you get in a pool, the buoyancy of the water takes stress off your joints and can loosen your muscles, preventing back pain. At the same time, swimming can strengthen your back and core muscles. Swimming can also be a good exercise for you if you have a pre-existing condition, such as arthritis.

Hand cart with box.

Use supports

Using supports, such as a folding hand cart or a wagon, for carrying heavy objects is an extremely smart way to prevent back pain. Prices for these supports can be extremely reasonable. You can find fold-up carts that are small enough to be kept in the trunk of your car for whenever you need a little extra support.

Downward facing dog pose in yoga.

Discover yoga

According to Harvard Medical School, yoga can help stretch and strengthen muscles that support the back and spine. It is important that you talk to your doctor first if you have already experienced back pain. Once you get the green light, make sure you learn the proper form from a certified yoga instructor.

Woman breaking cigarette.

Quit smoking

In a study looking at more than 34,000 people, it was discovered that there is a significant association between smoking and back pain. In the study, back pain increased with increased smoking exposure. Back pain was present in 23 percent of never-smokers, 33 percent of former smokers, and 37 percent of current smokers.

Active couple walking outside with their dog.

Stay active

When you are upright and active, your body is at work. This muscle activation increases blood flow throughout the all systems of your body and can help you feel better overall. Staying active can also help keep the core of your body strong and in turn keep back pain away.

Woman standing with good form.

Exercise with good form

Exercise is truly the fountain of youth. However, all exercise is not created equal. It is important that the exercises you choose are done with good form and within your physical limits. It can be tempting when you are working out with others to try to equal their efforts and do exercises that are not a good match for your body type. If you are starting a new exercise program, you may benefit from working, at least for a while, with a certified trainer to learn correct form in order to prevent back injury.

Yoga class for stress reduction and exercise.

Maintain good posture

Whether you are sitting or standing, good posture can be key to preventing back pain. Many of us think of back pain as an adult problem. However, with all of the screen time required of our children, it can also be important that young people also practice good posture. In one study, school children who received posture training had significantly less back discomfort than the children in the control group who did not receive posture warnings and tips on their personal computers.

Smiling business man relaxing in desk chair at work.

Choose the right chair

Scientists estimate that Americans spend about 8 to 10 hours a day sitting. Sitting can put excessive 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. A stool is useful to put your feet on. A small pillow or rolled towel behind the lower back can relieve pressure while sitting.


Hire someone for lifting

For an activity that you do only once in a while, such as moving furniture or building a patio, consider hiring someone to do the work. Lifting loads over 55 pounds and lifting more than 25 times a day increases lower back pain significantly. The extra money that you spend to hire someone will probably be much less than the cost of a back injury.

 Healthy Mediterranean foods.

Eat nutritiously

Chronic inflammation related to a poor diet can cause back pain according to the Spine Health Institute. Certain foods are known to cause an inflammatory response. For example, fried foods or overly processed foods can boost inflammation. Other foods are known to reduce inflammation. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep inflammation in check and help you feel your best.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.