Daily habits for a healthy, pain free back

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints doctors treat. The prevalence of back continues to grow as millions of people suffer, diminishing their quality of life. Some people experience such severe pain that it hinders their ability to work, socialize, or complete daily tasks.While nearly two-thirds of adult Americans experience low back pain, only about 37% seek professional help for pain relief. 

Back pain causes

The CDC has found that while adult women (nearly 30%) have more low back pain than men (25%), the American Physical Therapy Association found that approximately 31% of men state that their condition affects their employment more often compared to 20% of women saying this same issue. 

Back pain may range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden sharp pain, making it difficult to move. Causes of back pain include:

  • Age – more common the older you get
  • Poor physical fitness
  • Being overweight – the excess weight puts stress on the back
  • Heredity
  • Your job – heavy lifting or sitting at a desk all day can cause back pain
  • Smoking – this reduces the transport of nutrients to the discs in your back

If you don’t experience back pain, consider yourself lucky, but don’t take it for granted. Taking care of your spine – your back and neck – will help reduce the chances of possible back pain later in life.

You can take many steps to achieve a healthy, pain-free back. If you make these tips a part of your daily routine, you will avoid many common back and neck problems.

How to relieve back pain

Correct sleeping position

When we sleep, this is the one chance your back can rest and rejuvenate. Ensure your mattress, pillow, and sleep positions allow this by keeping your spine supported and comfortable. Buy a mattress that provides support for the natural curves and alignment of the spine. Your pillow should maintain a height of 4 to 6 inches and adequately support the head and neck. 

Avoid sitting for long periods

Prolonged periods of sitting can be the cause or can aggravate a painful back condition. Sitting creates more pressure on the discs in the lower spine. If you sit at a desk all day or do prolonged work on a computer, we tend to slouch and lean forward, putting more pressure on our lumbar discs.

Getting up, stretching, and walking around every 20 to 30 minutes during the day is essential. When talking on the phone, avoid neck pain by standing up and holding the phone to your ear or using a headset instead of cradling it between your ear and shoulder.

Have a supportive office chair or work at a standup desk for at least part of the day. Moving around and getting up frequently keeps the spine healthy and carries vital nutrients to this area.

Stretch your hamstrings twice daily

One often overlooked contributor to low back pain is tight hamstrings. When the muscles at the back of your thighs (hamstrings) are tight, it can cause stress on your lower back and sacroiliac joints, resulting in increased pain. It is important to perform hamstring stretches slowly and carefully, at least twice daily, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Do exercises for the back and abs

Strong, toned core muscles, your lower back and abdominal muscles, are necessary to support your spine taking pressure off your lower back. The core muscles need to be worked out through specific, targeted exercises. Take time each day to perform these movements, and your back pain should start feeling better. 

Maintain good posture

Good posture looks good on everyone and surprisingly affects your long-term health. Whether sitting in an easy chair watching TV, in front of a computer, walking, or standing still, maintaining your posture can prevent low back pain, injuries, and other problems. 

Wear supportive shoes

Supportive shoes provide a supportive base, helping the spine and body remain in alignment. When buying shoes, look for balanced, flexible, and comfortable ones. They should cup the heel, support the arch, and cushion the feet. When shoes fit correctly, this can help avoid potential back issues and prevent the foot from pronation or supination – too much rolling of the foot to the outside or inside of the shoe.  

Get a massage

Massage is not only a good stress reliever but also has therapeutic benefits for your back. Massages will encourage blood flow, bring healing nutrients to the spine, and release endorphins – your body’s natural painkiller – bringing relief to the back.  

Keep active

Movement helps maintain the health of your spine. Combine stretching, strengthening, and aerobic activities each day to keep your back supple and pain-free. Exercise will also help with weight loss or maintenance. Being overweight, particularly if you have belly fat, stresses your lower back muscles, ligaments, and tendons. 

When to see a doctor

If back pain persists and is not getting better or worsening, make an appointment with your doctor to investigate the underlying cause. Always see a doctor and do not self-medicate or self-diagnosis if you have the following:

  • Numbness or tingling in the back or neck
  • Severe pain that does not get better with rest
  • Pain after a fall or injury

Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.    


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