6 Ways to Prevent and Reduce Back Pain
6 Ways to Prevent and Reduce Back Pain
Back pain is the number one complaint that chiropractors hear in their offices each year. There is a misconception that back pain is a serious medical condition and should be evaluated and treated immediately. Mild back pain is actually quite common and can usually be alleviated by simple lifestyle changes.
Common reasons for neck and back pain include poor posture, repetitive stress, injury, nerve damage, and poor muscular support. This range of underlying conditions means that neck and back pain can equally affect someone who spends hours working on a computer as it does someone who does physical labor.
Here Are 6 Ways to Prevent or Reduce Back Pain in Your Life:
1. Find the Right Mattress that Works for You
You spend a third of your life sleeping on a mattress so it’s important to have one that works for your body and sleeping habits. There are pros and cons to both a soft and firm mattress so finding the right balance is key.
The most important thing when choosing the right mattress is to ensure it keeps your body in a neutral position. This means your spine should be held in its natural slight curve, and your head, shoulders, buttocks, and heels are aligned.
On a firm mattress, the weight of your body is distributed evenly, which means that no one part of your body is bearing the brunt of the pressure. However, for those with back problems such as arthritis and scoliosis, a firmer mattress can actually exacerbate pain by placing pressure on painful points.
Soft mattresses are generally more comfortable for those that sleep on their sides because they provide a cushion to the shoulders and hips. However, for many, a soft mattress doesn’t provide the support your body needs. Also, soft mattresses aren’t ideal for bed sharers since the heavier partner may sink one side and cause an unbalanced sleeping surface.
A mattress with medium firmness is ideal to provide enough support for your muscles without aggravating pain points but you should select the type of mattress that best fits your needs and sleeping habits. Check out our blog article on selecting the right mattress.
2. Sit Up Straight and Stand to Work
If you sit for a long period of time your spine will compress in an unnatural way which may cause nerve impingement, hernias, or vertebral disc degeneration.
Using a standing desk has proven to be beneficial. A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that 47% of people using a standing desk reported a reduction in upper back, neck and shoulder pain.
A good rule of thumb is to stand for as long as you are comfortable – then sit for up to 30 minutes and resume standing.
If your job has you sitting at a desk, you’ll want to make time throughout the day to stand up and stretch. For every 20-30 minutes that you spend sitting up straight at your desk, take 10 minutes to get up and move around.
For more information check out our blog on setting up an ergonomic workstation.
3. Exercise and Stretch
Exercise can strengthen your back and the surrounding muscles, helping to alleviate pain and reduce the risk of strain and injury.
With that said, if you aren’t physically active and decide to join an intense CrossFit class, you might experience lower back pain from performing an exercise incorrectly and overcompensating due to other weak muscle groups. The idea is to ease into an exercise program, learn to use the correct muscles for each exercise and dedicate a few days to strengthen the core.
The core encompasses your abdominals, obliques, and lower back. You’ll want to perform one exercise that strengthens each of these muscle groups in order to avoid overcompensation. This is when one connecting muscle group overpowers another and takes on the workload for both muscle groups. Taking a yoga or pilates class is a great way to keep the core in good shape.
A Sample Core Workout To Get You Started At Home Might Include:
Abdominals: Plank – 3 sets of 30 seconds
Obliques: Side to Side Cable Twist – 3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions
Lower Back: Superman – 3 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions
Check out our blog on Core Strength for more information.
What’s more, your core is just like any other muscle group. Although you may have heard that you can train your core every day, you shouldn’t, especially if you have back pain. Give yourself a few rest days per week along with a healthy diet to fuel recovery.
If you enjoy weightlifting, check out our blog on how to start a strength training program.
4. Hot vs. Cold Pain Therapy
If you just hurt your back and you’re experiencing back pain, you might be tempted to jump into a hot bath. While introducing heat is a part of the healing process, it’s not the first thing you should do. Applying heat to your back will actually make things worse by exacerbating the inflammation that is the source of the pain.
Cold treatment reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow. Apply cold treatment for the first 48 hours after an injury.
Heat treatment promotes blood flow and helps muscles relax. Use for chronic pain such as strains, sprains, and tendonitis or to warm-up stiff muscles before activity.
Remember, never apply extreme heat to your body and never put ice directly on your skin.
5. Keep Moving
If you’ve injured your back it’s understandably tempting to lie in bed and wait until the pain subsides. It’s what we do whenever we get sick so why should this be any different?
However, lying around waiting for the pain to go away will only make things worse. Studies show that physical activity is a key part of the recovery process. You don’t have to jump into a five-day workout routine; you just need to get up and be active. Take a 30-minute walk, lightly stretch, and repeat a few hours later. The worst thing you could do is stay in bed all day. (3) Learn more about our recommendations for starting a walking routine.
6. See a Chiropractor
While most back pain will go away on its own, you can always take action to ensure it disappears faster. One of the ways is to visit your local chiropractor. Chatting with your chiropractor is an excellent way to figure out the cause of back pain and it’s a simple solution to get you on the path to recovery.
Chiropractic adjustments aim to improve joint function in the spine as well as other joints in the body this helps to reduce inflammation (which causes pain). Chiropractic care can be used to treat the lower back, upper back, neck, feet, and even headaches.
Most chiropractors will perform a series of tests and tailor the treatment to the person’s needs. Treatment might include massage, acupuncture, and/or physical therapy.
For more ideas on pain relief check out our Wellness Tips & Ideas on Natural Pain Relief
If you’re experiencing back pain, give us a call today at 773-878-7330 to schedule an in office or telehealth consultation. We’ll be happy to help you recover quickly and get back to a pain-free life.
1. Mattresses for Chronic Back or Neck Pain: A Review of the Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2014 May 14. SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK263383/
2. Dehghan M, Farahbod F. The efficacy of thermotherapy and cryotherapy on pain relief in patients with acute low back pain, a clinical trial study. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(9): LC01-4.
3. Timm KE. A randomized-control study of active and passive treatments for chronic low back pain following L5 laminectomy. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1994 Dec;20(6):276-86.
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.