Back Pain is estimated to affect over 80% of the population at some point in their lives. Whilst for some having a back pain can occur from a sudden acute injury such as a road traffic accident or sporting injury, for most it is a cumulative injury that occurs over time as wear and tear accumulates in the lower spine through years of “bad habits”. So what are the common bad habit and what can do to avoid or change them?
POOR POSTURE AND SLOUCHING WHEN SITTING CAN CAUSE BACK PAIN
Having poor posture during your daily activities can put extra strain on the muscles and ligaments of your spine and can exert adverse pressure on the discs in the lower back. This is particularly the case when sitting as sitting tends to reduce the normal curve in the lower back making you more likely to slouch. Studies have shown that slouched postures exert up to three times as much pressure on the lower discs compared to a “neutral” or idea posture. If your discs are uninjured then you may get away with it for some time but as soon as the discs become injured or accumulate excess wear and tear this can be one reason preventing their recovery. Try to ensure you sit correctly when working at a desk or relaxing on a sofa by have a lumbar support device such as cushion in your lower back.
USING AND OLD MATTRESS AND NOT TURING IT FREQUENTLY ENOUGH CAN CAUSE BACK PAIN
We spend around a third of our life in bed! So ensuring your spine is supported as well as it can be during your hours of slumber can be very important. Over time old bed mattresses lose their firmness and can sag significantly which makes you lie awkwardly in bed and can cause back pain. One sign of this might be occurring is experiencing back pain that is worse in the morning. This can be a sign of inflammation just from having been immobile but it can also be a sign that your bed is not right for you, especially is you find you experience reduced morning pain when you sleep in a different bed such as when on holiday. Depending on the type of mattress you have it can also be important to regularly turn your mattress, especially if you have a memory foam mattress (which I am personally a big fan of). I recommend turning your mattress as frequently as once every fortnight, making sure to alternate between flipping it horizontally and vertically. Of course, some advanced mattresses may have other recommendations, so always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when you buy a new mattress for your bed.
LACK OF EXERCISE CAN CAUSE BACK PAIN
If you’re not regularly exercising and giving your back muscles a gentle work out every week, then it’s quite possible you’ll develop back pain due to your spine not having the correct muscular support. This can lead to increased shear forces on the discs and joints in the lower back, accelerating the wear and tear process. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer with back pain the core muscle of your spine and trunk will often “switch off” leading to a downward spiral of further pain and weakening. This one reason why back pain specialists place so much emphasis on regaining core strength particularly if you have suffered with chronic back pain.
LIFTING INCORRECTLY CAN CAUSE BACK PAIN
There is an art to lifting heavy loads and many people when they’re in a rush or inexperienced with lifting heavy items can easily fall victim to back pain if they put necessary strain on their back. The golden rule to heavy lifting is to ‘bend your knees’ and use the muscles in your legs to lift items, keeping your back in a fixed “neutral”, bending and pivoting from the hips not curving with spine. It’s also advisable to avoid twisting your back when lifting heavy things as this can put further undue pressure on your spine.
WEARING HIGH HEELS OR HAVING FLAT FEET CAN CAUSE BACK PAIN
Wearing high heels continuously will make you arch your back, placing strain on your the joint in your lower back (facet joints). Similarly, if you have flat feet or dropped arches, this can cause your feet and legs to roll in too much which will cause you to compensate by tilting your pelvis forwards and therefore risk increasing the arch in the lower back too much. Changing your footwear style regularly and stopping when the slightest pain emerges when walking, as well as considering wearing orthotics in your shoes can help combat these bad effects on your back.