It has happened to many of us. In fact 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.  It could be a dull ache in the lower back or a shooting/burning pain across the shoulders.  This week I will give you 6 tips to help you avoid back pain.

Regular Exercise:

I have talked about it before, and I will mention it again, regular exercise is one of the easiest and best preventative measures to help prevent and even alleviate back pain.  Remember, while structured exercise like going to the gym, running, or doing a class is great, you can also accumulate exercise and activity throughout your day as well through your daily activities. Park father from the store, use the stairs, or do some walking lunges in the house as you are going from one room to the next.

Lift Carefully and Properly:

This is something I discuss with patients on a regular and frequent basis.  Proper lifting technique is important.  When lifting something heavy, get help if you can.  If you are lifting by yourself, make sure to keep your back straight, bend at the knees and make your legs do the work.  It is also important to remember not to twist when you are lifting an object.  Always move your feet.  Take your time and keep the load close to your body.  Even 10lbs can do a lot of damage if handled improperly.

Don’t sit for too long:

Another conversation I have frequently with patients in my practice is reminding them to move throughout their day.  Many of our jobs have us sitting for extended periods of time.  Sitting for extended periods of time can cause increased stiffness and pain.  Our bodies were designed to move.  Motion helps to increase lubrication in the joints, increase blood flow and decrease stiffness.  If you have a job where you are sitting for long periods during the day, make an effort to move around as much as possible.  This can be setting an alarm for every 30-60 minutes so you will get up and stretch, stand and walk around while you are talking on the phone, or instead of calling or emailing a colleague that is in the same office, why not take the opportunity to walk down to their office. 

Get a good mattress and pillow:

A frequent question I get asked by patients is what kind of mattress or pillow should they buy.  Every person’s body is built differently, so a mattress or pillow that is well suited for one individual might cause pain in someone else.  A good mattress does not have to be as hard as stone.  You want to try as many as possible before you purchase so that you can find one that supports your hips and shoulders.  The same applies when you are looking at a pillow.  You want to find one that will accommodate what position you sleep in as well as support your head and neck well.

Don’t sleep on your front:

Sleeping on your front will twist your spine causing undue pressure on your neck muscles especially.  It also flattens out the natural curvature of your spine.  Lying on your side or back with a pillow between or under your knees may be tricky at first, but in the long run your spine and muscles with be happier and healthier for it.

Set your desk up ergonomically:

Do you have a chair that supports you properly?  Is it adjustable?  Is your computer at the right height?  Have you considered a sit to stand desk?  A general rule of thumb when you are sitting is to have your thighs almost parallel to the floor with your knees slightly lower than your hips and your feet should be on the floor-you might need a foot stool if you chair is higher because of your desk.  Ideally you will have your arms flat on your desk without raising or lowering your shoulders.