7 Tips to Help You Reduce or Avoid Back Pain

When we stop to think about the marvels we have in our bodies, it’s pretty impressive! The intellectual power of our brains. The dexterity of our arms and hands. The amazing work our eyes and ears do all day.

Another marvel is our backs. It supports all those other wonders and normally does the job without attracting much attention… at least until we have the misfortune to join the 80 percent of people who have back pain at some point of their lives.

If you have back pain, it may result from:

  • Muscle or ligament strains
  • A muscle spasm
  • Lifting something incorrectly (especially something too heavy)
  • A movement that is awkward for your body

Fortunately, there are some steps we can take to reduce back pain and lessen the chance of it coming back. These steps can help alleviate a “pain in the neck,” too.

  • Move more. Low-impact aerobic activity can help loosen muscles and increase your strength and endurance. Consider walking, swimming, cycling, yoga or exercises intended for the back. Exercises that strengthen your core (your back and stomach) can help reduce back pain.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being within 10 pounds of your ideal weight reduces wear and tear on your muscles and joints. Moving more can help you control your weight. Visit with your health care provider about how to maintain the right weight for you.
  • Sleep on your side or back. If you have back pain and sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between legs. If you’re a back sleeper, put the pillow under your knees.
  • Use a back-friendly chair. Choose one with good low back support and armrests. When seated, your knees and hips should be level. Adjust the height of your chair or use a footrest if needed.
  • Stand up straight. Carry your weight mostly on the balls of your feet (where the toes join the rest of the foot). Stand tall with your shoulders pulled back. Tuck your stomach in.
  • Lift carefully. Bend your knees and squat so your legs do the work rather than your back. Don’t twist your body while lifting.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can narrow your blood vessels and reduce blood flow to your spine and back muscles. That slows recovery time if you have injuries or strains.

If you have back pain, most cases go away on their own eventually. Over-the-counter pain relievers and rest may help. However, excessive rest, such as staying in bed for a day or two, can make the pain worse.

If your pain doesn’t improve after a few days, visit your health care provider. Your back pain may result from a structural problem such as a ruptured or bulging disk, sciatica, Arthritis or another issue. Those may require professional treatment to help you get back on your feet and moving comfortably.

Meet the Author

Mustafa Farooque, MD is board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation and fellowship trained in musculoskeletal spine and sports medicine at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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