Like most adults, you’ve probably dealt with low back pain from time to time. You’ve also probably done whatever you could to alleviate the pain and get back to your normal life as quickly as possible. Instead of waiting for it to happen again, take steps to prevent low back pain before it starts.
What is low back pain?
Low back pain is typically felt somewhere below the ribcage. It might occur suddenly in the form of a stabbing pain, or it can begin gradually as a dull achiness that radiates and worsens over time.
What causes it?
A sudden pain could be the result of an injury or illness and should be checked by a doctor. While pain that occurs gradually may have more to do with lifestyle choices, it should also be checked out.
How is it treated?
Depending on the cause, low back pain might heal on its own with a bit of rest. However, as this can mean missing work, family time and other activities, many people seek medications or alternative treatments so they can return to their daily routines.
What are the alternatives?
Some have success with chiropractic treatments, while others find therapeutic massage or physical therapy helpful. It may take a bit of trial and error to find what works for you, but it’s important to clear any alternative therapies with your health care practitioner.
Can I reduce my risk?
Assess your daily lifestyle to see what steps you can take to reduce your risk of low back pain.
Diet and exercise
Carrying more than a few extra pounds puts extra stress on your lower back and keeps you from using proper form when lifting or carrying something heavy. Losing the extra weight will eliminate the extra stress, and improving your overall fitness can make you less susceptible to injury.
Cleaning up your diet by limited processed foods and eating more meals cooked from scratch is a good place to start. Try to include mainly healthy, organic fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy oils.
With your doctor’s approval, start exercising regularly. Focusing on strengthening your core, which includes the buttocks, pelvis, abdomen and hips, can improve your posture and stability, and help to support your spine. Yoga may also be beneficial, as it strengthens and stretches specific muscles and improves flexibility.
Making work safer
While jobs that are very physical can sometime result in back injury, jobs that involve sitting for long periods might do the most damage over time.
Of course, if your job is physically demanding you need to practice proper form while bending and lifting, and be careful not to twist or reach while carrying heavy items.
If you’re seated throughout the day, get up and move about or even work standing up if possible. When you must sit, check your posture to be sure your spine is straight and both feet are positioned squarely on the floor.
You can’t carry it all
Busy lifestyles often mean gym bags, sports gear, laptop bags and lunch totes. A habit of slinging it all on one shoulder to keep one hand free throws your body out of balance and will almost certainly lead to low back pain at some point.
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