Americans are no strangers to back pain, with millions suffering episodes of lumbar pain at some point in their life.
My own husband suffers from an old sports injury, and it can be debilitating at times. Back pain can cause people to lose sleep, miss work and sit out of family events.
Pain in the back can stem from a number of issues, including pregnancy or injuries. If you are all too familiar with lying on a couch for days on end after bending in just the wrong way, here are some ways you can work to prevent a back injury:
Strengthen your muscles
Exercising can help prevent back pain from striking, and it can help naturally ease back pain after it strikes. Make exercise a regular part of your routine to stretch and build up the muscles in your back.
“Preventing back injuries can help you avoid being laid up for days, weeks or even more with pain,” says Robert Gerken, administrator at Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Exercising regularly is a good way to improve your flexibility and keep muscles strong, which can help fend off injury.”
While all exercise can benefit your back by improving your overall fitness, workouts that target specific muscles in the back can give you some added protection. Paying extra attention to the back, abdominal and buttock muscles improves posture and strength, which gives more support to your back. Once lower back pain has struck, specific exercises done with approval from your doctor can get you back up and moving sooner.
Treat your back with care
If you are prone to back pain, giving your back some extra love can help to prevent these injuries. Pay attention to strain you may be putting on your back and change your movements to avoid tweaking sensitive muscles. Some examples include taking care when reaching for items, lifting with your legs, supporting your back, and sleeping on your side. Some small changes in your routine can mean avoiding painful back injuries.
Keep your bones strong
Avoiding pain in your back takes more than just working out your muscles. Keeping your bones strong will make a big difference too. While most people are acquainted with lower back muscle pain, osteoporosis is to blame for back problems as well. Brittle vertebrae can break, causing back pain and a curved spine. Make sure to get enough calcium, vitamin D, protein and other important nutrients to keep osteoporosis at bay.
Talk to your doctor
Diet, exercise, stretching and babying your back can go a long way toward preventing back pain, but you shouldn’t hesitate to seek a doctor’s help for pain that is getting in the way of your daily activities. Your physician can prescribe a range of treatments to help alleviate pain — from chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture or steroid shots, to surgery or other procedures.
Don’t let back pain keep you off your feet. Put these ideas to work, and be sure to seek treatment for pain that is affecting your ability to work or function.
A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.