Back Pain: 15 Surprising Ways It Happens, and What to Do About It
When you get out of bed in the morning, do you find yourself clutching at your back as you get to your feet? Do you have trouble bending down to pick up dropped items or lifting groceries out of your car? Do you ever have to stop in the middle of the workday and stretch out your aching back?
Many people live with back pain every day, and for some, it has a huge impact on how they live their lives. Back pain can have a number of causes, but there are also things you can do to improve it. Read on to learn about some surprising causes of back pain and what you can do to start living pain-free today.
1. Poor Ergonomics
Raise your hand if you spend your days sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen. Now take that hand that’s in the air and use it to rub the sore spot on your back where you slump in your office chair. Poor ergonomics at work is one of the leading causes of back pain among working adults.
Your computer screen should be at eye level and an arm’s length away to avoid you having to hunch over to see it. Your chair should support the curves of your spine, and your arms should sit lightly on the armrests when your shoulders are relaxed. Adjust your chair height so that your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet rest flat on the floor or a footrest.
2. Bad Shoes
Shoes can also have a huge impact on the health of your back. Anyone who’s ever worn high heels for a day has probably noticed that at the end of the day, your lower back was aching from the extra pressure. When you wear heels, your toes hit the ground first, which places additional stress on your knees, hips, and back.
Backless shoes like flip flops can also be hard on your back. When your heel isn’t stabilized by a strap or backing of some sort, it will slide around, compromising your stability. This distributes your body weight unevenly, which puts more pressure on your spine.
3. Mobile Technology
Next time you’re on some form of public transport, take a look around you. We’re willing to bet that, until that point, you and everyone else around you had been looking down at a phone. While this is a great way to stay connected with those we love at all times, it isn’t a good angle for our necks.
Staring down at phones all the time leaves our necks craned at uncomfortable angles for long periods of time. The tension that forms in your neck from holding this position can radiate all the way down your spine into your lower back. You may even notice yourself slumping over in your seat, placing more strain on your back.
4. Extra Weight
Most of us are carrying a few more pounds than we would really prefer to. Bodies are beautiful at any size, but carrying extra weight means some extra strain on your spine. This is especially true if you carry your weight around the middle.
When you have a little bit of a belly on the front, it pulls your pelvis forward, tugging it out of alignment. This creates a more pronounced curve in your spine, placing a greater strain on your lower back. If you don’t have the core strength to support you, you may begin to feel the repercussions in your back.
5. The Wrong Bra
People who have large breasts will know that they can be a major pain – specifically pain in the back. Even D cup breasts can weigh as much as fifteen or twenty pounds. That’s about the equivalent of carrying around two small turkeys on the front of your chest all the time, and that’s not even going into larger breast sizes.
A bra is supposed to take some of that weight off your back and redistribute it. But a bra that fits wrong or is made from poor materials may exacerbate the problem. Instead of lifting your breasts and redistributing the weight, these bras hang that weight off of your shoulders, causing you to hunch and strain your back.
Have you ever noticed that in the middle of a stressful day, you find your shoulders and back aching? Stress has a tremendous effect on your body, and one of the more common symptoms is muscle tension. Many people carry this tension in their backs, especially around their shoulders.
When you keep your muscles tensed for long periods of time, knots can form and your muscles may start to spasm. Your body also produces cortisol in connection with stress, which can cause inflammation and achiness. This pain can combine with your existing stress, each ramping the other up and turning the whole thing into a vicious cycle.
If you suffered an injury to your back, you may not be surprised that it hurts. Injuries can affect the soft tissues of your back – your muscles, tendons, and ligaments – or the bones. And injuring your back may be easier than you think, especially as you get older.
Something as simple as bending over too quickly or taking a sudden misstep can cause painful muscle spasms. Your back may ache the day after you try to pick up something heavy, especially if you didn’t use proper lifting technique. And things like car accidents or falls can cause serious damage to your spine.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes the padding between your bones to break down. This causes your bones to grind together, causing pain and eventually damaging the bone. About 54 million people in the United States have arthritis, and many of them suffer from spinal arthritis.
Spinal arthritis attacks the cartilage that cushions each of your vertebrae. It can be very painful and can limit your mobility, decreasing your quality of life. Previous back injuries, extra weight, and a few other conditions can increase your risk of developing spinal arthritis.
Osteoporosis is another degenerative bone condition that eats away at your bone density. Over time, your bones become more porous and fragile, making it easier and easier for you to break bones. This disease tends to affect women more than men, and it may be entirely silent until the first bone breaks.
One of the common effects of osteoporosis is that you may begin to get compression fractures in your spine. These cracks appear slowly over time and can cause compression and pain. You may have difficulty lifting objects, sitting, standing, or moving at all.
10. Spinal Problems
There are also a variety of other spinal problems that can cause back pain. The disks in your back can begin to bulge or may even rupture, which presses on your nerves. This can cause extreme pain that radiates down the rest of the back, especially if the sciatic nerves are being compressed.
You might also have a condition that causes your spine to curve in some irregular form. One of the more common of these conditions is scoliosis, a condition in which your spine curves out to the side. In general, these conditions remain painless until middle age, at which point pain may begin to increase with age.
11. Get More Exercise
One of the best things you can do to alleviate back pain is to work some more exercise into your regular routine. Exercise will manage many of these causes, including everything from a few extra pounds to stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that combat stress, lower inflammation, and increase your energy.
Exercise can also help to strengthen the muscles in your back and core, providing more support for your spine and helping to alleviate pain. If you’re trying out a new exercise regimen for the first time, get advice from a personal trainer on how to properly perform the moves. The last thing you want to do is injure your back further by lifting a weight the wrong way.
12. Get New Pillows
You might be surprised to learn how much the simple expedient of getting new pillows can improve your back pain. If you’re sleeping on the wrong pillows, your back may be twisted into an S shape for hours every night. This can cause serious back pain and make existing problems like sciatica worse.
Memory foam pillows can help provide the give and support you need to keep your spine aligned while you sleep. You may also want to look into getting a knee pillow to prevent your hips from falling out of alignment and pulling on your spine. This extra bit of support can help you rest easier and prevent a lot of back pain issues.
13. Use Relaxation Techniques
If you think your back pain may be stress-related, there are some excellent relaxation techniques you can use. Yoga and meditation are great places to start, and yoga has the added benefit of improving core strength. Simple mindfulness can also make you aware of where you carry tension in your body, an important step in beginning to relax that tension.
Start by sitting somewhere quiet and comfortable with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths and then tense the muscles in your face into a squinched frown. Hold that while you count to five, and then release all of those muscles, focusing on the sensation of that release.
Continue the exercise down your body, clenching, and then releasing the muscles in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, back, core, thighs, calves, and feet. Focus each time on the sensation of those muscles releasing, and notice areas that feel especially tense. If you like, repeat this exercise a few more times, and then make it a part of your daily routine.
14. Get New Shoes and Bras
If you suspect your shoes or bras may be the problem, it might be time for a shopping trip. When you’re shopping for shoes, look for options that have a closed, flat heel that provides good stability. If you have to buy heels, look for styles with a wide heel, and keep it under three inches high.
When you go to get a new bra, go to a store that offers professional fittings. A fitter will measure below your breasts around your ribcage and then over the top of your breasts to determine your band and cup size, respectively. You may want to look for bras with side straps that will provide a little more support without cutting into your shoulders.
15. Talk to Your Doctor
If your back pain becomes severe, or if these techniques don’t do anything to improve it, go talk to your doctor. Conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and scoliosis can be serious and may require treatment. The sooner you get a diagnosis, the better chance you stand of making a full recovery.
When you go to your appointment, take a list of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re currently using. You should also bring a complete medical history, including any injuries you’ve suffered or accidents you’ve been in. And you may want to jot down a list of questions you have for your doctor, including what you can do to improve your back pain.
Learn How to Remedy Back Pain
Back pain can have a serious impact on your life, and it can be caused by a wide variety of things. Pay attention to the things in your life that may be triggering your pain, and focus on improving those conditions. And if your back pain persists, make an appointment with your doctor and stop living in pain.
If you’d like to find the best tools to make your life more comfortable, check out the rest of our site at Everlasting Comfort. We have everything from memory foam pillows and knee pillows to humidifiers and essential oil diffusers. Shop our collections today and start making your home the haven of comfort you deserve.