Back pain is extremely common – in fact, 8 out of 10 people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. If you’re part of this statistic, know that in many cases, back pain can be prevented, or at least reduced, by following a few easy, back-friendly practices at work and at home.
- Practice good posture while sitting by keeping your shoulders back and your spine straight. Every few hours, check your posture by placing a fist between the small of your back and the back of your chair. If it fits perfectly in between, you’re sitting up straight. If you have too little or too much extra room, then it’s time to readjust.
- If you sit down all day, elevate your feet on a low stool or stack of books. Once every hour, stand and stretch by putting your hands on your lower back and gently leaning backward, then forward.
- If you’re on your feet a lot, be sure to spread your weight evenly between both feet. Keep your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line. Your head should be up and your stomach pulled in.
- If your job involves heavy lifting, keep your back straight as you lift from the knees, tightening your stomach muscles and keeping your head down at the same time. Keep objects close to you and don’t twist your body while lifting.
- Since you probably spend most of your time at home in your bed, be kind to your back by purchasing a firm mattress that supports your body evenly; there should not be any gaps between your body and the bed. If you have a soft mattress, there’s no need to go out a buy a new one right away; you can make it firmer by putting a half-inch plywood board underneath it.
- In order to prevent bulges or indentations that can lead to back pain, rotate your mattress clockwise or turn it upside down every few months (check with your mattress manufacturer for specific recommendations).
- Choose a pillow that supports your head and neck. When lying down, you body should be fairly flat and straight.
- Incorporate regular exercise into your weekly routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a day, most days of the week. If you need to take a break from exercise, make sure to take it slowly once you get back into the swing of things.
If you’re currently suffering from back pain, try low-impact exercises like yoga, walking, swimming, and stationary bike riding. Make sure to warm up and cool down before and after every workout.