Back pain is a worryingly common condition. The fact is, most of us will experience it at some point in our lives. While in many cases, this discomfort disappears in a matter of weeks or months, some people suffer chronic or recurrent pain that has a big impact on their day to day lives. As our bodies age, they become more susceptible to these problems, but there are steps you can take now that could help to protect you from back pain in later life. This brief guide talks you through the basics.
Maintain a healthy posture
If your parents were forever telling you to sit or stand up straight when you were young, they were doing you a big favour. The fact is, the way you sit, stand and lie down has a big impact on the health of your back. To minimise damage when you’re standing up, keep a straight, upright position with your head facing forward. Try to balance your weight evenly on your feet too, and stand with your legs straight. It’s also important to keep an upright position when you’re sitting down, and make sure the small of your back is supported. Also, keep your knees and hips level and rest your feet flat on the floor or a footrest.
When it comes to sleeping, make sure you have a mattress that’s firm enough to provide proper support for your body while keeping your spine straight. Your head should be raised with a pillow, but don’t position your neck at a steep angle. If you struggle to achieve the right sleeping position, it may be worth investing in an adjustable bed. There are now a range of electric beds for the elderly, but these sleeping aids can be used by people of any age and if they enable you to sleep in a better position, they could prove useful in staving off back pain in the future.
Stay in shape
It’s important to stay in shape too because excess weight in your upper body can put strain on your spine. This means it’s important to watch what you eat and to do plenty of exercise. Certain forms of physical activity are especially useful if you want to enhance your back health. For example, swimming, yoga and pilates are all ideal because they are low-impact and they help to build muscle strength and flexibility. If you’re new to these exercises though, seek guidance from a qualified instructor so that you don’t develop bad techniques that could lead to injury.
Lift and carry with care
Most back injuries are caused by handling objects incorrectly, so it’s crucial to take care when you’re lifting or carrying things. Before you lift an object, ask yourself if you can manage the task, and if handling aids such as trolleys are available, consider using them rather than taking the strain yourself. When you do lift something, make sure your feet are positioned apart, with one of your legs slightly in front of the other for balance. Bend your knees, hips and back slightly, but resist the temptation to stoop or squat and make sure your legs take the strain. Keep the objects close to your waist and body for as long as you can too, and try not to twist or lean sideways. You should also keep your head up so you can see where you’re going.
It may be impossible to eliminate the risk that you’ll suffer back pain in later life, but by following tips like these, you can at least minimise the danger.
*This is a collaborative post
*Image of lady with back pain from shutterstock.