October 4th-8th is Back Care Awareness Week. According to the British Chiropractic Association, most people will suffer from one or more episodes of back pain throughout their lives – ouch! Thankfully, there are steps you can take to ward off aches and pains. Here are our tips on how to take care of your back and prevent back pain.
What causes back pain?
Back pain can be caused by a number of things, and it’s not always easy to determine a single reason. Common reasons may include:
- Poor posture
- Improper lifting of heavy objects
- A sedentary lifestyle or occupation
- Work or lifestyle stress
Fortunately, back pain rarely has a serious cause, and there are a number of ways you can take care of your back to help prevent pain.
How to take care of your back
Staying active is one of the best ways to prevent and manage back pain. Walking, swimming, and yoga are all great exercises to strengthen your back muscles, but make sure to choose an exercise that you enjoy and can do on a regular basis. Any exercise that keeps you active will be beneficial to your back.
Regular stretching is also important to help reduce stiffness and maintain the mobility of your spine. Spend some time each day practising some simple stretches for your back; the British Chiropractic Association has some great exercises that you can try at home.
Always try to maintain good posture where possible. If you work from home or at a desk job, it’s important to adapt your workspace to suit you. Maintain the normal curve of your lower back by using an ergonomic chair, or even invest in a standing desk. You can also talk to your HR department about how they can adapt your work environment to help manage your back pain.
Try to avoid slumping in your seat or hunching over your desk, and make sure to get up regularly to stretch and move around. If you work at a standing desk, take regular breaks to sit down.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important to prevent back pain as extra weight can put more stress on the spine and joints. Try to stick to a balanced diet with a variety of foods and a well-portioned plate.
Dehydration can often contribute to muscle aches, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water – the NHS recommends six to eight glasses of fluid a day.
Wearing the wrong shoes can aggravate or bring on back pain, especially if you stand for prolonged periods throughout the day. Stay away from ill-fitting shoes or high heels, and instead opt for shoes that provide sufficient arch support such as orthopedic or running shoes.
Take care when lifting
Improper lifting often causes back injuries. Avoid lifting heavy loads where you can, and when you do pick things up, make sure the load is spread evenly. Squat down, bending at the knees and hips, and keep the object close to your body when lifting.
Do not bend over or twist when picking up a heavy object as this can be dangerous for your back.
A good night’s sleep is important to rest your spine, but sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause or worsen back pain. Spend some time searching for a good mattress that supports you properly; if it is too firm or too soft it won’t support your spine the way it should. The ideal firmness of a mattress is different for everyone, so spend some time testing different mattresses before you buy.
Get a check up
We always advise having a ‘health MOT’ to make sure everything is in order. Visit us for a consultation to help avoid any niggles developing into more serious issues. Our practitioners come with a wealth of experience and can offer further advice on how to take care of your back.