If you had back pain in the past, you know how painful it can be. In addition, it takes weeks to recover. Naturally, one of your biggest goals is to prevent a future episode. While there are a few things you can’t prevent like aging or genetics, there are plenty of risk factors that you can control. Avoiding these risk factors will help prevent future flare-ups. Let’s have a look at the best 7 tips to prevent back pain.
Work on your posture
Improving the posture can reduce the risk of neck pain, middle and lower back pain because poor posture is a leading cause of back pain. Here are some simple rules to keep a healthy posture
Whether you sit down or stand, keep your shoulders in a straight line over the hips and make sure the ears are directly over the shoulders.
When working at the desk, keep the screen of your monitor or laptop at eye level. Use a headset instead of holding your phone between the ear and your shoulder. Take frequent, small breaks to stretch the neck and back
Use proper techniques when lifting heavy objects
Lifting heavy objects is very common nowadays, and can put a serious strain on your lower back. Weight lifting is a popular workout. Think about heavy items from grocery stores like a pack of 24 bottles of water, a large box of vegetables, or a 20 kg cat litter box. How can you prevent back strains and sprains? Work with a fitness trainer at the gym to learn proper techniques. As for other heavy objects, think throughout the task. When lifting a heavy box from the floor, stand close to the box and do not lift from a standing position. Instead, kneel and rest one knee on the floor or squat. Maintain a natural curve of the spine, and let your legs do the work. Avoid twisting. If you can get help from someone, even better.
Adopt a healthy diet
The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest and most studied diets in the world. The research found that a Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk and/or manage osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis– which could all cause back pain. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes wholesome foods, including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, lean meats, fish, seafood, herbs, and spices. There are many variations of this diet to choose from.
Keep your weight under check
A combination of diet and exercise help you maintain a healthy weight.
You should also take into account food sensitivities or intolerances. For example, gluten is included in the Mediterranean diet. However, millions of Americans have intolerance and sensitivity to gluten, according to the Arthritis Foundation. For them, removing gluten can make a huge difference in arthritis-related pain, and overall health. Removing gluten and other grains for a period of time can also help shed those extra pounds more efficiently. Work with a nutritionist or dietician to have a well-balanced diet, and avoid any nutrient deficiencies for eliminating certain foods.
Sleep well, in a comfortable position
You spend a third of your life in the bedroom, sleeping. Your posture is important during the day and night.
Make sure your spine and the entire body are in a comfortable position. Keep your head and neck aligned with the body, using a pillow under the neck. Placing a pillow under the thighs when sleeping on the back helps relax the muscles of the back.
Both the quantity and the quality of the sleep matter. Lack of sleep or poor sleep. correlates with more inflammation in the body, as well as more pain, especially chronic low back pain. More pain leads to sleep disturbances, creating a vicious cycle.
To break this cycle, work on improving your sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep and try to get to bed early. Your last coffee or caffeine-based drink should be no later than 2-3 pm and have the last meal at least 4 hours before bedtime. The bedroom should be completely dark, on the cool side for better sleep.
Also known as the sleep hormone, melatonin levels start rising around 9 pm and peak between 2 and 4 am. Older adults have lower melatonin levels compared with younger individuals, explaining why sleep problems are more prevalent as we age.
Talk to a doctor and see if melatonin supplements are right for you. Melatonin helps improve sleep and has painkiller and anti-inflammatory qualities as well. Furthermore, research shows that melatonin supplements may help delay the aging and degeneration of the intervertebral discs. Maintaining the integrity and health of these discs for longer translates into a decreased risk of back pain related to degenerative disc disorder.
Yoga and stretching exercises
Regular exercise is essential for a healthy spine, helping prevent and manage back pain. Yoga or other stretching exercises in particular are great options to maintain the spine flexible and pain-free. Some studies found that yoga is beneficial for midlife adults with non-specific low back pain for both short-term and long-term pain. Aim for working out most days of the week. When you have a workout day, use stretching exercises as a warm-up/cool-down period. When you plan a day of exercise, have at least a 10-minute yoga or stretching session.