Do you find yourself suffering from back pain throughout the day, even though you don’t think you’ve done anything to injure yourself? Back pain isn’t always the result of an injury. Sometimes, the things you do in your everyday life could be the cause of the problem; you just don’t notice it because the back problems develop over time, rather than right away like they would with an injury.
These are some of the lifestyle factors that can cause back pain. Are any of these true for you?
1. You don’t exercise.
Exercise is critical not only for your overall health, but also for spine health. If you don’t ever exercise, or only exercise every now and again, the muscles that support your spine can become weak. If those muscles are weak, the spine won’t get the support it needs, and the vertebrae and discs take on that extra stress.
How to Fix It: If you haven’t been exercising, and your back is starting to bother you, focus on exercises that strengthen the core muscles. These are the muscles that support your spine. Crunches and sit-ups are probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a core workout, but there are plenty of other core-strengthening exercises that are easy on your back. Try yoga or an exercise ball.
2. You do exercise, but only on the weekends.
You might be very busy on the weekdays, and the weekends are the only time you feel you can devote to exercise. However, by being a “weekend warrior,” you are doing yourself a disservice. If you’re inactive from Monday-Friday, then do a full-force workout Saturday and Sunday, you’re putting a lot of strain on your back and spine that it isn’t prepared for. You’re also greatly increasing your risk of injury.
How to Fix It: As busy as you think you are, you have to put aside time to take care of yourself. Even if you can’t make it to the gym on the weekdays, you can make time for some type of workout. If you’re really pressed for time, try some exercises that work multiple body parts at the same time and require no equipment–you can do these types of exercises just about anywhere you are.
3. You spend most of the day sitting down.
Sometimes your job requires you to sit down at a desk for a large portion of the day, so it can be difficult to avoid. However, sitting for prolonged periods of time can increase stress on your back and neck. In fact, staying in any position for most of the day is not good for you. Even worse? If your desk setup is incorrect, you may be hunching forward to see the computer screen, which can lead to poor posture and more back pain.
How to Fix It: Try to get up and walk around at least hourly. Walk to a coworker’s desk to ask a question or stand up and stretch. If your office allows, you might even try a standing desk. If you do feel neck and back tension while you are sitting, try some simple stretches at your desk.
4. You eat a lot of junk food.
If junk food is a regular part of your diet, it can affect your body in two ways. Junk food can make you put on extra pounds, and that extra weight can put stress on your spine. You also may not be getting the nutrients your spine needs to stay healthy, like calcium and vitamin D.
How to Fix It: It can be difficult to resist the temptation of junk food, but it can be done. Try to prepare your meals for the week ahead of time and keep healthy snacks with you so you won’t be tempted to pull into the nearest drive-thru on the way home.
Sometimes, life gets in the way of healthy habits. But, once you see the results of sticking to a healthy lifestyle, you’ll realize how important it is to take care of yourself.