Back pain is a growing issue in modern society and is one of the most common reasons for taking time off work. There are many causes of back pain but there are things that can be done to help prevent the pain from developing in the first place. By following our simple tips below you will be giving your spine the best chance at remaining healthy and pain free.

Our 10 tips to help prevent back pain:

Let your legs do the lifting.

Many people develop back pain after incorrectly lifting objects by using their back muscles or twisting as they lift. Vertebral disc herniation’s can also develop suddenly if you lift a heavy object incorrectly. Watch how to correctly pick up objects here.

Pain from using smartphone

Avoid slouching.

This is especially important if you sit all day for work or look down a lot at your phone. A slouched posture slowly stretches out the ligaments at the back of the spine making you more prone to slouching in the future. It’s essential to have an ergonomic workstation setup. Learn more about the recommended computer and desk setup here.

Spread weight evenly.

If you often carry heavy bags with one hand or shoulder, consider lightening the load and spreading the weight to both sides of the body, using a strap, backpack or carrying an even load on each side.

Use a healthy mattress.

If you wake up sore and stiff, struggle to sleep or if your mattress is more than 7 years old, consider getting a new one. Look for one with lumbar support. A chiropractic approved mattress is a good option and ensures spinal health is considered within its design and build.

Keep physically active.

This ensures your joints and ligaments get moving and your muscles are strong and healthy. Muscles stabilise the spine during movement. Weak back and core muscles can lead to spinal instability and predispose you to back pain. If you are wanting to improve your core strength, consider trying pilates or check out these great core exercises you can do at home.

Maintain a healthy diet and weight.

Being overweight places excessive stress on your spine, increasing the likelihood of back pain and injury. A healthy diet will also help supply your bones, joints and soft tissues with all the nutrients they need to replace older cells and repair any damage. See New Zealand’s eating and activity guidelines for more helpful tips.

 

lady who is hiking

If you are smoking, stop!

Studies have shown there is likely a link between smoking and the development of back pain. It is thought that cigarettes chemicals cause damage to the vessels that supply the vertebral discs and spinal joints, leading to degeneration. Quitting smoking will also help prevent the development of many other (more serious) conditions.

Reduce stress.

Stress can naturally tighten muscles making them prone to injury while also affecting how your body moves and functions. If you find your body is always feeling tight and uncomfortable consider meditation or give yoga a try; it will give you time to relax while calming down and stretching a variety of muscles.

Get chiropractic treatment.

It is well established that manipulative therapies can be an effective treatment for back pain. However, some studies go further to suggest that the treatment can also help prevent back pain from developing in the first place.  A study performed on college athletes concluded that a delay in core muscle activation significantly increased their odds of sustaining a lower back injury. Another study on people who have delayed core muscle activation found that after receiving just one chiropractic adjustment there was a 38% improvement in their ability to activate their core muscles. By combining these two study results you can see that chiropractic treatment may help reduce the likelihood of sustaining a lower back injury. Check out other research-backed ways chiropractic can help here.

Avoid staying still excessively.

If you stand or sit in place for long periods, try to get up and move at least every 20 minutes. Move all of your joints and stretch out any tight muscles. Your spine alone has over 80 joints! Your body is designed to move, desk jobs were not present during most of the human body’s 100,000+ years of evolution.

Evolution of man artwork

People often discuss the benefits of paleolithic diets to increase health, by basing their food choices on our ancestors. Personally, I believe it is more important to aim for a paleolithic lifestyle; keeping physically active, staying close to family/friends and eating naturally occurring foods.

Just don’t go chucking spears at anyone, it probably won’t help!