80 percent of the general population will experience back pain at least once in their life. This post is the advice us spine doctors give our friends and family so they can hopefully stay pain free.
You might be the back pain ‘type’. Relax already!
I see people all the time who have certain traits that can real contribute to back pain. Usually it’s that women who’s stressed, which makes her body susceptible to inflammation, a major cause of back pain. She’s dehydrated, sits at a desk, and doesn’t exercise enough. I tell my friends to cut out caffeinated drinks, since caffeine can dry out the cushions between the vertebrae, leading those vulnerable bones to develop cracks. Instead, drink water. And when sitting, straighten up and open your legs slightly, which will help stabilize your back. When you walk, keep your core engaged: Think about how you hold your stomach as you’re trying to get into a tight pair of jeans. Your back will thank you!
Your back is like a jelly doughnut. Handel with care.
A women I know could barely walk because of her sciatica, which occurs from compression of a disc in the lower back. This can arise out of nowhere as a result of everyday things like bending too far forward to tie your shoes. I told her to picture a healthy disc as a doughnut filled with jelly, nice and cushion like, which protects your back from stress and pressure. Tear that disc and it’s like the jelly just squirts out and you’re left with less protection, that’s a herniated disc, and the result can be excruciating, shooting pain. To protect it on a daily basis, avoid heavy lifting and don’t sit for more than one hour at a stretch: sitting puts more pressure on the discs than being upright and walking.
Don’t Just Plop into Your Seat.
I recently pointed out to my sister that the way she was sitting wasn’t doing her back any favors: She was perched with her feet on the wheels of her chair, not on the floor, and it was driving me crazy! It’s better to leave your feet flat on the ground. When they’re up, it causes your shoulder and neck muscles to contract more than necessary. Women at my office do this too often, because their chair seat is too high or their chair is too big. Adjust accordingly! I also tell them not to hunch forward to write, read, or eat, and here is why: Your head weighs about 10 pounds, and every inch you hunch forward, away from your center of gravity, it doubles its weight. That’s easily 20 pounds pulling on your back.
Try Sleeping on Your Side
Friends of mine with chronic back pain are always shocked when I tell them not to sleep facedown, they don’t realize they’re putting more stress on their lower backs by sleeping on their bellies and will feel worse when when they get up. Sleep on your side and do the pillow-between-your-knees trick; it works to relieve pressure and pain so you can get some rest.
If You Love to Wear Heels, You Need to Tone Your Abs.
Whenever I see friends sporting heels every day, I tell them they have to do exercises to build a strong core. This can help minimize pressure damage to your back from heels. The plank (holding at the top of a push-up) is a great move for ab toning, and when your abs are toned, they and your back muscles work as a framework for the spine. Heels force you to arch your back in order to maintain your balance, so keep them on for only two to three hours, then slip them off for as long as you possible can.
The ‘Baggage Fee’ for a Purse Over 5 Pounds? Back Pain!
Many women are weighed down by carrying basically their whole lives in their purses. I’m constantly telling them they must lighten their load! Here are some fast tips to make it easy: When purse shopping, choose a bag that feels featherlight in your hand before you put anything in it. I like an adjustable strap, because you don’t want your bag hanging too long, which puts pressure on your back muscles. And don’t let one side do all the work, alternate carrying it on your left and right shoulder.
Worry Less about Back Pain
Friends of mine often get very anxious when they feel back pain coming on, but that can make it worse. I tell them not to panic, because it’s most likely not going to be a chronic problem. 90 percent of all back pain is related to muscle strain. There’s no reason to take to your bed; it’s far better to stay active. Just do it wisely. Avoid bending over at the waist, which will aggravate symptoms, but otherwise live your life as you normally would. If pain does start, buy a lumbar corset. They take weight off your spine, and after three to five days of wearing it you should feel good as new.