I’ve heard more stories than I can count about how people have injured their backs. Some stories are terrifying, others can be quite funny, and I’ve heard everything in between.
Would it surprise you if I told you most Back Pain isn’t caused by an “injury”?
Most Back Pain is far stealthier! It sneaks up on you for no reason and most people are left without a good story tell to explain their Back Pain.
While I can’t promise you a good story, there are several things that could be causing your Back Pain.
Some of what I’m about to share with you might be surprising and some might seem like common sense. Either way I hope you will find at least one new tip or habit you can change starting today to help you ease or prevent Back Pain.
Too Much Bending, Not Enough Squatting
Yes, we are designed to bend! Just imagine what life would look like if we didn’t bend…EVER! Thankfully we are also designed to squat!
A big problem I see that causes Back Pain is when someone has a habit of bending at the waist too frequently, too repetitively or stays in a bent position for too long, especially if they are lifting or moving something at the same time.
Bending too much causes a repetitive mild strain and microtrauma to the muscles, ligaments and discs of the spine. This trauma builds up and causes Back Pain to gradually develop. An occasional dull ache turns into constant pain that can start to limit activities.
In other cases, an individual will do the same movement the same way for years often without any pain. Then they bend the exact same way and “all of sudden” have sharp pain in their back and have difficulty standing back up.
Too much bending, poor movement habits or poor body mechanics will eventually catch up with you and your back!
Squatting helps protect your back, so stop bending so much and start squatting more!
If you’re not sure how to squat properly…click here to read this BLOG and learn more.
You can start to create new healthier habits by catching yourself bending over when you could be squatting instead. Simply stop and correct yourself!
Your back will Thank You - now and later!
Too Much Sitting, Not Enough Movement
Have you ever found yourself having trouble standing up after you’ve been sitting for a while? Maybe it takes a few seconds (and a couple grunts and moans) before you can get going on your feet? This is a perfect example of what happens when we sit for too long.
Sitting puts a strain on your back, especially when the lower back is not properly supported. To make matters worse sitting with poor posture puts strain on the neck and shoulders and can lead to some nasty headaches.
Do you slouch down in your chair sitting at your desk or curl up into the couch to watch a movie? If so, it could be contributing to your back pain.
And there’s more! Sitting too much also causes the hip and leg muscles to get tight, which can lead to hip and knee problems.
If you sit for long periods at work or other reasons, you’ll want to make sure you have a good chair that fits your body type and provides good lower back support. Use a small pillow to support your lower back when sitting on the couch if you decide to watch a movie.
But the bigger problem is that most people simply sit too much and don’t move enough!
Stand up, walk around the office, go for a walk on your lunch, do something active after work or join a gym.
Don’t be a couch potato at home either! It’s not difficult to find simple ways to move more. I always have several things on my “to-do list” at home to keep me busy…I’m sure you do too!
The point is to simply move more and sit less!
Too Much Sugar, Not Enough Nutritious Whole Foods
Sugar alone doesn’t cause Back Pain…at least not directly! But being overweight can greatly impact your health in many ways, including your back health.
Carrying extra weight on your frame puts extra pressure on your back with simple everyday tasks, which can contribute to Back Pain.
Don’t get me wrong here! Not everyone who is overweight has Back Pain and there are a lot of people at a healthy weight that DO have Back Pain. There are obviously a lot of reasons for Back Pain, but when I have someone who is struggling with persistent Back Pain it’s important to start looking at other lifestyle factors that could be part of the problem.
Being overweight can often be just that – part of the problem!
If you’re overweight a great place to start is by cutting back on sugar and focusing more on eating more nutritious whole foods and you will likely start losing some weight right away.
Stay away from processed foods as much as possible. Even whole grain bread and pasta counts as a processed food and should be limited if you want to lose weight.
Stay consistent, pay attention to your total caloric intake and find ways to move more and you will ultimately achieve a weight that is healthy for you and will help reduce the amount of stress on your back.
Too Much Stiffness, Not Enough Strength
Most people know that tight muscles cause pain. Why? Because most people have experienced a tight painful muscle.
What a lot of people don’t realize, is that weak muscles also cause pain.
Unfortunately, by the time most people decide to get treatment for Back Pain they have both – tight muscles and weak muscles.
There are a few common reasons for this – lack of exercise, lack of flexibility or lack of strength.
Some people exercise very little, if at all. Many of these people need a program that includes both stretching and strengthening. This may be very basic, but basic can be very beneficial for a lot of people, especially someone with Back Pain looking for a place to start.
Other people enjoy long walks or going out for a run, but don’t make time to stretch or strengthen key muscles to prevent Back Pain. Even those who do regular strengthening exercises often don’t make time to stretch as often as they should – or they focus on large muscles groups and don’t ever target important stabilizers – and end up with Back Pain.
If you want to avoid Back Pain, achieve optimal health, stay mobile and maintain your independence as you age, the key is a well-balanced exercise program that includes some form of cardiovascular exercise, flexibility, strengthening and stabilization exercises.
Too Much of This or Not Enough of That…
Some simple changes like those mentioned here can make a big difference in your back health and I hope you found at least one tip that you can implement into your routine starting today!
If you’re looking for even more great tips on how to ease or prevent Back Pain, click here to instantly download our Free Back Pain Report.
If you are struggling with Back Pain and have reached the point where you are ready to get some help - give us a call at 503-744-0046 and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have.
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"Helping active adults overcome persistent aches, pains and injuries, so they can get back to the activities they love and improve their health naturally - without pain medication, injections or surgery."
Oregon City, OR
Dr. Julie Krueger