The human body relies on the back for support. Without this support, one would be unable to do anything from standing to sitting to walking. The majority of us unknowingly manage to cause harm to our primary source of support. Be it through lifting or sitting, or even standing, simple movements, if done incorrectly, harbor the potential to cause significant damage to one’s back, which results in backache.
Millions of people suffer from back pain daily across the globe. Back pain falls only second to headaches in causing pain. Four out of five adults are reported to experience back pain. The pain has been described as gravely affecting the quality of one’s life. Back pain is known to affect one’s social and professional life. In severe cases, back pain can prevent a person from performing everyday tasks efficiently.
Causes of Back Pain In Pregnancy
Regarding causes, the latest studies show that most cases of back pain are present due to muscular imbalance around the spine, along with bad posture and positioning. Less than 15% of the cases of backache result from structural issues such as arthritis, tumors, or ruptured discs.
Following are some of the causes of back pain.
- Bad Posture: Poor posture can strain the neck and lower back. It inhibits the routine functioning of internal organs and makes the body more prone to injury.
- Obesity: Additional weight means more stress on the bone structure. This includes the spine and its surrounding muscles.
- Sprains: Sprains result in muscular pain. They are caused by extreme physical exertion, falls, heavy lifting, and bending or crouching.
- Ruptured Discs: The discs of the vertebrae are the essential determinant of spine health. Slipped or ruptured discs are the source of excruciating backache resulting from the pinching of nerve endings by the displaced discs.
- Stress has been known to have a debilitating effect on one’s overall health. Backache can be caused by daily stress and anxiety.
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is a common occurrence in old age. An inevitable outcome of this illness is bone pain. The effect of this illness on the spine results in severe back pain, which can be minimized by focusing on posture correction and exercise.
10 Ways To Care For Your Back
Backcare is one way in which you can reduce your chances of developing back pain. These are more than practicing body mechanics in the form of daily tasks. Simple yet harboring the potential to introduce profound change, here are ten ways to care for your back.
1. IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE
Poor posture is one of the main reasons behind back pain, especially at a young age. Owing to the nature of work in today’s world, we spend a fair amount of time on our computers and phones. Prolonged periods of looking down into such devices resulted in a particular form of back pain, introducing a new term called ‘text neck.
This condition was described as developing over years of looking down and reading. Experts explained that such tasks force us to slouch, which puts stress on the neck and shoulder muscles. Over time, this posture leads to pain and muscle fatigue.
Your posture does not merely encompass sitting or standing. It also counts your performance with routine activities such as lifting, bending, etc. A good posture ensures that the vertebrae are aligned correctly and thus functioning properly.
2. SWITCH POSITIONS AND STRETCH
Remaining stagnant in one position all day results in muscle tension build-up. Whether lying down, sitting, or lifting, it is critical to keep changing your positions frequently and stretching from time to time to relieve that built-up muscle tension.
Regular working hours span between 8 to 9 hours. When at work, sit at a proper desk with the correct posture. After every hour or so, get up and stretch. Not only will it enhance mobility and joint flexibility, but it will also get the blood flowing better. Healthy blood flow is imperative to muscle health. Joint fluidity helps maintain a good range of motion and reduces the risk of injury.
3. DO REGULAR EXERCISE
Exercise should be an essential part of one routine as it benefits your health countless times. From weight loss to better posture to enhanced blood flow to better joint fluidity to overall muscle health, staying active is the key to physical fitness. According to NINDS, staying physically active reduces one risk of experiencing back pain. Mobility ensures the healthy functioning of the spine.
Sedentary living is bad for the back; however, vigorous exercise is not particularly helpful either. If you incorporate strenuous activity in your routine to the point where it causes exertion, you are working for more harm than good. The joints, muscles, and supporting tissues are not ready to bear that stress level. Instead, opt for a more steadfast approach and work your way up by initially starting small.
The best exercises for back care have been concluded to be a mix of aerobic exercise, stretching, and strength training. The idea is to focus on the muscle groups that support the back. It is important not to put excessive strain on the back. Incorporate more exercise in your routine that enables you to become healthier, such as walking, cycling, swimming, etc.
Walking is the most commonly prescribed exercise for those struggling with lower back pain. Aerobics aid spinal alignment and improves flexibility. The goal is to enhance mobility. Do not over-stress your body.
4. TAKE A BETTER DIET
A fair percentage of backaches result from increased weight, especially belly fat. The enhanced weight adds additional stress to the bones and muscles, resulting in pain. The goal should be to maintain a healthy weight, and the best way to keep your weight in check is with exercise and diet.
Certain food items have been studied to increase cortisol levels in the body. These include sugary foods, dairy, gluten, fried food, saturated fats, trans fats, alcohol, and red meat. Cortisol, also sometimes referred to as the stress hormone, possesses the ability to induce inflammation.
Increased cortisol levels in the body increase the inflammatory factor, resulting in pain. To counter the effects of high-cortisol foods on our health system, it is necessary to consume foods that harbor the opposite effect, i.e., those with anti-inflammatory properties.
Many food items have been proven to fight inflammation. These include green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, berries, tomatoes, onions, and more. Therefore, to help improve your chances of living a pain-free life, you must consume more of these foods than those in the formal category. In addition to contributing to a healthy dietary intake and weight, with the inflammatory factors at bay, there is a reduced chance of developing pain.
5. WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES
Choose the proper footwear that supports a healthy posture and is appropriate for your chosen exercise or engagement for the day. It is no surprise that heels are detrimental to spinal health, as are flat shoes like ballet flats. To function correctly, these shoe styles demand you to tense your feet, which adds stress to your whole body, especially your back. Your feet are the foundation of the building that is your body. When the foundation is under pressure, the entire building will be under stress, too, and prolonged stress will damage.
The ideal heel for maintaining optimum spinal health is one inch. High heels contribute to unstable posture and increased pressure on the lower spine. Flip slops and flats lack adequate support, adding strain to joints. Invest in the right pair that gives your feet comfort and back support.
6. ADOPT THE RIGHT WAY TO LIFT WEIGHT
Lifting heavy weights the wrong way can result in severe consequences. One bad move and you can damage your spine for good. Experts recommend that the best way to lift weights is to stand close to the object and employ your knees and legs rather than your upper body or back.
Bend your knees so your arms reach the same level as the item that is to be lifted. Lower your head and keep the back straight as you lift. If the weight exceeds your strength, avoid extra effort and get help. Also, make sure to take breaks between lifts to prevent muscle fatigue.
Hydration has been deduced to play a significant role in maintaining soft tissue elasticity, joint fluidity, and this overall flexibility. Our spinal discs begin to shrink as we age, becoming more susceptible to pain resulting from disc displacement or rupture.
These conditions arise when fluid loss causes the discs to slip out of place. A commonly reported condition is sciatica. Sciatica results from herniated vertebral discs and bulging discs, both of which are excruciating and damaging. Thus to reduce the risk of developing this condition, it is best to take every measure necessary to prevent it. Start drinking more water.
8. OPTIMIZE YOUR WORKSTATION
Working hours can be long, and working in a less-than-comfortable position can be incredibly damaging to your spine. Thus, it would help if you optimized your workstation according to your body. These small measures will reduce the stresses on your upper and lower back. This reduced stress will help reduce the incidence of headaches, stiff backs, shoulder pains, sciatica, carpal tunnel, etc.
If you are using a computer, make sure it is installed too far away and set up at the same level as your height and functionality. Opt for a chair that provides excellent lower back support and allows you to place your feet firmly on the floor. Avoid slouching or leaning into the screen, and sit back with your shoulders relaxed to improve your posture and reduce muscular stress.
Be self-conscious and keep checking yourself at regular intervals to see if you are sitting correctly. If you will be taking many calls, invest in a headset instead of wedging the phone between your ear and shoulder.
9. CHOOSE THE RIGHT MATTRESS FOR THE BEST SLEEP
We spend a significant portion of our day in bed sleeping. Sleep is essential for one overall well-being. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that you are sleeping right. The impact of a mattress on your overall sleep quality and spinal health is more important than it is given credit for. Supportive mattresses are beneficial for the back; however, choosing the right one can be pretty daunting, considering the wide variety available now.
The key is finding a mattress that allows you to sleep better and reduces pain or stiffness. There is a common misconception that rock-hard mattresses are the best for the back. However, a study published in Lancet in 2003 debunked this claim and instead confirmed that medium-firm mattresses are the best ones for lower back pain. Lastly, know when to get your hands on a new mattress. A visibly sagging and lumpy mattress is the worst for your back. Once your mattress has lived its course, treat yourself to a new one.
10. DO DON’TORE THE SIGNS
If you are experiencing occasional back pain during pregnancy, do not ignore it. This is perhaps the most crucial thing to know: never sleep on any warning signs. Observe the pain patterns and interpret what your body is trying to convey—leaving a condition as serious as backache untreated can cause it to deteriorate rapidly. Seek help before it is too late.
Back Pain In Pregnancy – Backcare should be an integral part of one well-being.