Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the US. Did you know that at any given time, around 30 million Americans are suffering from back pain? If you have a bad back, and you feel like you’ve tried every trick in the book to banish pain, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some suggestions to help you reduce discomfort and start living a pain-free life.
Determining the cause
There are myriad factors that contribute to back pain, and the first thing to do if you suffer from chronic pain or pain that is getting worse is seek medical advice. When you see a doctor, they will examine you and ask you some questions about your symptoms. It may be that pain is associated with underlying causes, in which case, treating the cause could help to alleviate pain. In other cases, lifestyle changes may be recommended. There may also be causes related to your job. If this is the case, a doctor may be able to recommend safer techniques to try and offer some tips to help you feel more comfortable at work. If you have severe back pain, your doctor may recommend further tests, such as an MRI scan. This will enable them to see if there is damage to the spine or the surrounding muscles or bone tissue.
Correcting your posture
Poor posture is a contributing factor in most cases of lower back pain. Your posture relates to the position of your spine when you’re sitting or standing. If your spine isn’t in an ideal position, this can increase pressure and strain on your muscles, causing discomfort. In this day and age, we tend to spend more time than ever sitting down, due to the prevalence of office jobs. If you do spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk, it’s essential to make sure you understand how you should be sitting to prevent back pain. Your spine should be straight, your shoulders should be relaxed, and you shouldn’t have to crane the neck to see the screen properly. If you’re reaching for the keyboard or the screen isn’t level with your eye line, adjust the height of your chair or desk. If you don’t already have a specially designed ergonomic office chair, ask your employer to provide one. It’s very important that your spine is supported properly while you’re in a sitting position.
Maintaining good posture is not just important when you’re sitting down. You should also pay attention to your posture when you’re standing, especially if your job involves standing for long periods of time or lifting. If you do have to lift items as part of your job, use machinery for heavy loads and make sure you bend your knees and keep your back straight. When you’re standing, try to avoid stooping or slumping and keep your shoulders back.
Finding the right mattress
The importance of getting a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated. If you suffer from back pain or you’re prone to bouts of discomfort, it’s particularly beneficial to find the right mattress. If your mattress isn’t perfect, this can cause back pain or make existing symptoms worse. If you’re looking for a new mattress to help with back pain, try some different styles and brands and avoid going for the cheapest option. You often get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability when you’re shopping for mattresses. If back pain is an issue, look out for products that have been ergonomically designed. These mattresses promote relaxation and reduce muscle tension, and they provide support for the spine while you sleep.
Choosing the right forms of exercise
Most of us are aware of the benefits of doing regular exercise for our health and wellbeing. Living with pain can make exercising difficult, but you don’t have to give up on working out if you suffer from back pain. You may not be able to do certain activities, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be active. Aim for low-impact exercises and avoid anything that involves jarring movements. Lifting weights and jumping aren’t ideal for people with back pain, for example. Swimming is often recommended, as the water supports your body weight. If you want to stay active without risking injury, speak to your doctor or a qualified personal trainer before changing your exercise regime or embarking on a new training program.
Conditioning your back
They say that prevention is better than cure, and conditioning can help to reduce the risk of recurrent pain. Conditioning involves strengthening the muscles to make your body resistant to injury. You can do this with a physical therapist or by doing specific, targeted exercises at home. These exercises are not focused solely on the back. They also help to increases strength and suppleness in the hips and the core. Examples of exercises include McKenzie stretches and dynamic lumbar stabilization. The aim is to stretch the back, build muscle, and improve flexibility. You may also find that exercises like those found in yoga and Pilates routines effective. If you’re new to these activities, it’s best to go to a beginner’s class. Once you’re familiar with the stretches, and you’ve honed your technique, you can then practice at home.
Back pain can make life a misery, especially if you have periods when pain intensifies or you have prolonged bouts. If you suffer from back pain, it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice. In some cases, there may be an underlying cause, and treating this should be a priority. Many cases of back pain are linked to poor posture. If you slouch when you’re standing or you tend to sit slumped in your chair at work, this can affect the alignment of your spine and increase tension in your muscles.
It’s important to take steps to correct your posture if you’re worried that this may be a contributing factor. Sit up straight and relax your neck and shoulders. If you find that you’re in pain when you get up in the morning or you can’t get comfortable at night, consider replacing your mattress. If your mattress is old or it’s too soft or spongy, this could be making your pain more severe. Exercise offers a wealth of benefits, but take care when selecting activities. If you’re already in pain, some sports could make the situation worse. Ask your doctor or a trainer for advice.