Health

How to prevent back pain in later life*

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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.

This article has 22 comments

  1. Claire

    These are great tips. As someone who suffers from back pain I take extra care now when lifting things. I still need to work on a better posture x

  2. Kiersten Millican

    Thanks for the reminder to have better posture. I have to remind myself all day that just because I work at a computer all day, I can’t allow myself to be lazy!

  3. Kelly

    Great tips! These are something we can all do 🙂

  4. ana

    I am currently being referred to a back clinic as I have scoliosis, hyper-mobile joints and damaged deltoids among other things and it is partly due to genetics and partly due to posture. I need to improve it.

  5. Lori

    Great tips — I also find stretching all over helps. If one area gets out of whack, everything goes out of whack!

  6. Cynthia @craftoflaughter

    We never think things will happen to us and as a result, we don’t take as good a care as we should of ourselves. Back problems is a big one!

  7. maria @ close to home

    I am reading this as as I am scrouching infront of the computer typing this comment. Such great advice.

  8. tiaras and tantrums

    Posture is key. As my old cheer coach used to yell at us for hours on end – Stick your boobs out girls!! We used to think she was nuts – but she had the best posture!!

  9. Mar

    We never think about this until it’s too late! I recently hurt my knee, and didn’t realize how bad that immobilizes you until it happened to me! BLechk.

  10. Debra

    These are all such great tips! I need to focus on these more.

  11. Paula

    I fell down the stairs at my parents house over 10 years ago, and back pain is one of those things that you never think much about until you’re faced with it. These are great tips. If you’re experiencing a flairup, ice works well.

  12. Cathy Mini

    I always try to buy ergonomic chairs for my desk, and I try to sit up straight as much as I can; I know a life working at a desk will eventually destroy my back, so I try to do what I can now before it’s too late!

  13. Rachel B

    Good tips! I really need to work on my posture! Even as I’m typing this I realize I am sitting with bad posture, hunched over!

  14. JanetGoingCrazy

    Great tips! I’ve always had trouble with keeping good posture, especially when I’m sitting at my desk.

  15. Jaclyn

    My husband has already started getting back pain and working out has helped so much! Great tips!

  16. Stacey

    Excellent advice! I have lower back pain and am constantly working on my posture and strengthening my core.

  17. Mykidsguide

    These are great tips. Lifting with care is very important.

  18. Natasha

    This post is right on time as I have been experiencing some lower back pain. I tried to pick up a couple of cases of water and I should not have done that. Thanks for the info!

  19. Maybelline @ Naturalmente Mamá

    Great tips! I learned the hard way to take care of my back and now I am waaaaay more careful not to twist and turn while carrying stuff

  20. laura londergan

    These tips are spot on as dealing with back pain is no joke! It’s something we have got to pay attention to or we will have it for life.

  21. lexie

    I seriously need to start working on this because my back is already killing me!

  22. Candi

    So far I have been blessed not to have back pain. You really have to take care of your body to make it last.

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