You never truly appreciate your back and all it does for you -- until it starts to hurt. Then every move brings a symphony of agony, until all you want to do is make your back pain stop.
The bones, muscles, and joints that make up your back are among your body's biggest support systems. When any part of that system is weakened or injured, it becomes harder for your back to bear your weight.
Up to 80% of adults have low back pain at some point in their lives. Instead of resorting to back pain treatment after the damage has already been done, be a little proactive. Practice a few pain prevention strategies today, and you may not be sidelined by back pain tomorrow.
Here are WebMD's top 10 tips for keeping a healthy back.
- Don't Be a Slouch
When your mother scolded, "Don't slouch!" she was unwittingly giving you good medical advice. Holding your spine in an unnatural position or bending the wrong way can strain the muscles and ligaments that support it, leading to back pain. Maintain a healthy back by practicing good posture. Hold your stomach in, your head straight, and your shoulders and hips in one line. Keep your knees slightly bent and your weight balanced evenly on your feet. Stand up straight! Don't lean forward or backward.
- Sit Up Straight
When you sit, raise your chair until you're at a comfortable distance from your desk without having to reach or slouch. Flatten your back and buttocks against the chair, keeping your knees slightly higher than your hips and your shoulders back. Choose a chair with good lumbar support, or put a rolled-up towel behind the small of your back. Sit in the same good posture whether you're working at your desk, watching TV, or driving in your car. If you have to sit for long periods of time, get up every 30 minutes or so to stretch your back.
- Take a Load Off
Never try to lift anything that you know is too heavy for you. The only thing you'll accomplish is a sore back. To avoid low back pain later, use the right form when lifting. Kneel down and get close to the item you want to pick up. Tighten your abs so they support and protect your back. Then lift with your legs, not your back, and avoid twisting. Keep the object close to your body while you're carrying it.
- Rest Easy
Get rid of your featherbed or waterbed and replace it with a firm mattress that offers plenty of back support. Avoid sleeping on your stomach or back, which can cause back pain. Lying on your side instead takes about 55 pounds of pressure off your back. Prop up your knees with a couple of pillows to reduce the pressure even more.
- Strengthen Your Support System