As you get older, you may start to experience pain and stiffness in your body, particularly your back. If you have problems with back pain, you are far from alone. Nearly every adult suffers from some degree of back pain during the course of their life. In any give 90-day period, about 25% of men and women in the U.S. report one day or more of back pain, notes the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
In fact, back pain is one of the main reasons people go to the doctor. If you have been suffering with back pain, there are a number of lifestyle adjustments you can make that will help prevent and/or reduce the frequency and severity of your backaches. However, if your backache is severe or prolonged, you should go to your doctor to rule out any underlying problems.
Lifestyle Adjustments To Prevent Back Pain
Exercise and Weight Control Promotes Back Strength
Getting regular aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, walking, and bicycling can help strengthen your back and build stamina. Exercises that increase strength and flexibility in the abdomen, hips, and thighs may also improve the overall feel of your back.
But be careful if you have not exercised in awhile. Start slow and stop if your back starts to hurt. It will take some time to build up your muscles and you do not want to injure yourself and give up altogether too quickly. If you have not exercised in a long time, you should also consult a doctor for a recommended exercise program. They may also recommend seeing a physio therapist to help you.
Maintaining a healthy weight also diminishes stress on your back muscles and makes you less likely to experience back pain. If you are overweight, losing excess pounds can help prevent or reverse back discomfort.
Smoking May Prolong Back Pain
Recovering from back pain in a timely manner is yet another good reason to quit smoking. Backaches in smokers may linger for longer than in non-smokers. People who smoke have less oxygen in their spinal tissues, which can impede the normal healing process and prolong the pain, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing low back pain, adds the Mayo Clinic. If you smoke, talk to your health care provider about the best strategies to kick the habit.
Give Your Back a Break
Standing for long periods of time can place undue stress on your back and lead to back pain. If you can’t avoid standing for an extended amount of time, rest your feet on a footstool periodically to give your lower back rest, advises the Mayo Clinic
Lugging around heavy suitcases can result in back pain too. Packing as little luggage as possible when traveling can lighten your load and protect your back from unnecessary strain.
If you are driving for long periods, remember to set the cruise control on your vehicle. Far less stress is placed on your lower back when both feet are planted firmly on the ground.
Preventing Back Pain While You Sleep
The position you sleep in can either help or hinder back pain. The best sleep position to avert back pain is lying on your side with your knees bent, advises the American Academy of Family Physicians or AAFP.
Sleeping flat on your back can make your back ache. If this is your preferred sleeping position, try putting a pillow under your knees to alleviate some pressure on your back.
Sleeping on a firm mattress can also prevent back pain and help keep you from feeling stiff when you wake up. If you have a soft mattress, placing a ½ inch thick sheet of plywood under the mattress can provide additional support.
Few things are worse than having a back ache. It can disrupt your life and your daily plans. Take care of your back and you will ensure many more active years ahead of you.