9 Tips for Preventing Lower Back Pain

It is amazing how many people suffer from lower back pain, and it seems to be increasing. This is due to the cultural necessity of long hours of sitting. We sit to go to work, we sit at work, we sit when we eat, we sit when we watch television or play computer games for relaxation. We exercise too little, have chronic stress, and many of us are considered medically obese. All of these factors combine to contribute to postural problems and back pain.

There are many different types of and reasons for back pain; we discussed these in a previous article. One of the most prevalent reasons is for lower back pain is anterior pelvic tilt since this condition is primarily caused by persistent sitting. There are ways to prevent or reduce lower back pain and these are ten tips to help preventing lower back pain.

#1 Avoid Prolonged Periods of Sitting

You may not be able to decrease the number of hours you are confined to your desk at work, but you can get up and move around. You should do so every 30 minutes.

Think about the reasons you need to leave your desk – visit the restroom, get a drink, go to lunch – and try to space them out. Additionally, try delivering a message personally to a co-worker instead of making an inter-office call.

Think of tasks you can do standing up. Listening to phone messages or making a call are two good examples.

If you have a tendency to get so involved in work you forget to get up and move, download a free timer for your computer and set it for thirty minutes each time you sit down. If do not have any place to go or any task you can do while standing, try walking in place for a few minutes.

#2 Practice Good Postures

Part of being aware of your body’s movement is to be aware of your standing and sitting posture. Part of the reason for anterior pelvic tilt is poor posture while you are sitting; we have a tendency to lean forward towards our computer screen.

You do not want to hold yourself stiffly, but you do want to keep your eyes straight ahead, and your head held high. Bring food, and whatever you are reading or working on, to a position that allows you to continue looking straight ahead. This allows you to put minimal strain on the muscles of your lower back and preserves the spine’s natural curve.

#3 Strengthen Your Muscles

There are a number of reasons strengthening your muscles is especially important if you suffer from back pain.

  • It is important to keep the muscles of the spine strong to provide good support.

  • Staying flexible is important to make sure movement is fluid and without pain.

  • Range of motion can be improved with exercise.

  • Strengthening abdominal muscles (the most important muscles) helps avoid back pain.

Make sure you do stretching exercises to avoid stiffness, which can cause additional pain.

#4 Be Aware of Your Body’s Movements

If you suffer from lower back pain – in fact from pain in any part of your body – you need to be aware of your body’s movement. If movement causes you pain, your body is trying to warn you. Such movements as twisting, lifting heavy objects, or bending to retrieve something you dropped with resultant pain may indicate trouble. You should avoid any movement which causes pain as much as possible. Listen to the signals your body sends and avoid additional pain and injury.

#5 Warm Up and Cool Down

When you exercise, it is imperative to warm up with aerobic exercise and cool down with stretching. It is important to prepare your muscles for intense activity to prevent injury and pain; aerobic exercises do so.

After exercising, your muscles are warm and need to be relieved of tightness which can contribute to back pain. Stretching also helps with spine alignment and relieves joint strain. Since your muscles are warm, stretching is not uncomfortable.

#6 Lift Correctly

When you lift, use your leg muscles, not your back and arms. Bend your knees to lift a very heavy item off the floor, using your leg muscles. Make sure you keep your back straight. You want to avoid straining your back with too heavy a load.

If there is a reason you cannot lift correctly – bad knees or severe back problems such as spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis of the spine – consider lightening the load or asking for assistance.

#7 Find Your Right Sleep Position

We have devoted an entire post to finding the “best” sleeping position. Experts agree the best sleep position is sleeping on your back and that you should avoid sleeping on your stomach. However, we cannot always adhere to what the experts advise.

Remember, whatever position you choose should prevent back pain. You want to make sure you avoid excessive strain on your back and neck. Be guided by what is comfortable for you, use good judgment, and try various sleeping positions until you find one that is comfortable and prevents or eliminates back pain.

#8 Take Off Extra Weight

If you are overweight, your spine is compressed and the intervertebral discs are loaded with extra weight. The result is postural abnormalities, such as anterior pelvic tilt. Also, if you are overweight, you tend to have a sedentary lifestyle which adds to weak muscular support of the spine, stiffness, and resultant back pain.

The best type of exercise for preventing back pain is aerobic exercise. Also, there are specific exercises for those with particular postural problems.  You will find directions for some of those exercises elsewhere on this site.

#9 Seek Professional Help if You Need It

You may need to consult a medical professional for help for your lower back pain. We have made some excellent suggestions for preventing and correcting lower back pain. But the time may come when nothing seems to provide relief. A chiropractor or other health professional can provide some additional suggestions for preventing and eliminating back pain.

Also, you may wish to seek professional help for dieting and exercising in order to reduce weight, strengthen the muscles that support the spine, and learn exercises that can prevent and alleviate your pain. Do not hesitate to seek professional advice if you believe you need to have it.

Following the tips in this article can help you prevent, reduce, and eliminate back pain. We welcome your comments and any questions you have we will do our best to answer.

photo credit: aarmono

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