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14 Habits You Must Avoid To Prevent Hurting Your Back

The spine is an arrangement of smaller bones called vertebrae with disks in between acting as a shock absorber and upon disturbance results in back pain. It can range from being mild to disabling a person. Back pain can affect certain nerves resulting in pain in different parts of the body. Back pain may result in weight loss or high body temperature. On urinating, a person may face difficulty or require to pee often and in small amounts. Same with bowel movement, one loses control on passing feces along with back pain. Numbness may be felt in these areas.

14 Habits You Must Avoid To Prevent Hurting Your Back

14 Habits You Must Avoid To Prevent Hurting Your Back

These everyday habits that lead to back pain and should be avoided:

  1. Poor Posture

    We generally have a tendency of stooping no matter what we do. While sitting, standing, working or even working out we tend to bend forward. However, yoga practitioners always have a straight posture. They always stand straight. It is a known fact that gravity has a counter effect on everything which causes the spine to press down and too much bending due to a poor posture only worsens the situation.(1)

    Wrong postures result in rounding of the body affecting the shock absorbing disks and constricting the nerves and blood vessels which in turn gives rise to a lot of pain. The poor posture stresses the body muscles and other joints.( Lumbar spine has the responsibility of bearing all the physical stress and a poor posture reduces its functionality. These anatomical changes are really harmful to the body as it can have long-lasting effects. Therefore, it is always better to maintain a disciplined life and keep a straight posture while performing any chores. Yoga and other exercises help in spine lengthening which in turn prevents compression in the spine. Exercises for core strengthening provide muscular support for maintaining a straight posture.

    The alignment of the back is disturbed when one leg goes under another i.e. when one is sitting with the legs crossed. It tilts the pelvic area. Therefore, one side is over-stretched and the other side is pressurized. This will finally lead to pain under either of the shoulder blades. So, it is advisable to sit with both the feet on the floor.

  2. Exercising

    Exercise has a long list of benefits but overdoing something can never turn out positively. One may exercise for losing weight but it affects the body in various other ways. If someone does not know the particular implications of certain exercises or if the work out is being overdone, then it may leave the bones brittle. However, some exercises which are considered to be very effective in losing weight and maintaining health may worsen neck and back problems. Such exercises include spin classes and cycling. This is because many a time the bikers are required to lean forward while cycling. Therefore, long hours of strenuous work out that requires bending down continuously, gives rise backaches.

    On the contrary, if a person is not exercising at all then the chances of that person suffering from backache increases much more. It allows a decline in the bone density over time, finally giving into old age. Back and abdominal strengthening exercises should be practiced so that the muscle spasms or any back injury is healed. Weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises build the core, strengthen the muscles and most importantly increases bone density. It improves posture and makes the person more flexible.

    Being sedentary to actually deal with back pain will have adverse effects. Limiting oneself from exercising is not useful for this cause. Exercise helps in proper blood flow to all parts of the body and also the affected region allowing a reduction in inflammation. Long hours of resting results in the increase of back pain and may also lead to more complex situations. These include the formation of blood clots in the lower body like the legs, decrease in muscle tone and falling in depression. Whereas people who continued with their regular schedule of work and other chores recover from the back pain more rapidly and feel more flexible as well.

  3. Habit of Smoking

    To begin with the argument, it is a proven statement that smoking tobacco is injurious to health. If the lungs were not enough, smoking can also cause back pains.(2) It is better to leave smoking once and for all but just for further convincing, here is another reason why. Smoking cigarettes can lead to damaging of the spine. The disks are dangerously affected by smoking. It degenerates the disks in the vertebrae before time along with degeneration of the bones. Besides this, smoking prevents blood flow to the disks because of the presence of nicotine in it hence dehydrating them. As a result, the disks become incapable of absorbing nutrients which keeps them healthy.

    As is known that every vertebra has these discs acting like shock absorbing cushions in between them, these discs tend to thin out, dry out or even crack due to dehydration. This situation is called Degenerative disc disease. Other than restricting nutrients to the discs, smoking also reduces the percentage of oxygen being circulated in the blood which reduces the amount of nourishment received by the tendons and the muscles that support the back. Naturally, if this support system is undernourished then it will do its job properly. This makes the back weak and more vulnerable to shocks and injuries that cause back pain. It may also lead to osteoporosis making the bones fragile and brittle.

  4. Medications

    Medications are for curing purposes. Everyone takes medications at some point of time in life. But, some medications have certain side effects. Steroids, for example, weaken the bones. With the increase in the dosage of such steroids, the risk of osteoporosis increases. High dosage of steroids creates a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium and thus effects bone health. In severe cases, the patient may suffer from degrading bones to even losing a bone.

    In the first 6 months of steroid consumption, it does not harm as much. After a span of about 12 months of the consumption either inhaled or taken orally, starts degrading the bones. Certain medications can stop this effect of the steroid and prevent osteoporosis.

  5. Anxiety

    If people are depressed or anxiety struck then they are more prone to pain in the body because emotional distress heavily affects the way pain is channelized into the bodily system and the muscle groups. This also includes the back and the spinal area. With heightened stress, the muscles in the head and neck region also experience

    contractions which give rise to a headache or pain in the upper back portion. If the situation intensifies, then the pain further increases with sustained muscle contractions. On the suppression of natural feelings like grief, rage and fear people may, in turn, feel physical pain which may include a hurting back.

    Doctors prescribe to let out, hear and confront the subdued feelings individually (one does not require assistance from any other person or changing the way of living). This process is called journaling. Other than this method one can simply take the help of writing down their heart on pages. This will help in clarifying certain aspects and feelings in the mind that were previously seeming blurred and confusing. Automatically the physical pain being experienced by the excessive stress also gets relieved and thus, the back pain also reduces.

  6. Sleeping Postures

    Sleeping is all good but maintaining a more or less right posture and the right location for sleeping is crucial. Otherwise, if the body is twisted and turned in a weird way while sleeping it may irritate the muscles and the joints of the body. This is because the body is used to such postures in its natural way. Therefore, after a long peaceful one may wake up with a stuck neck or a kink the back. So, it is advisable to sleep on the bed and avoid sleeping on the couch.

    Many people have the habit of sleeping on their stomach. It may feel extremely snug and warm but sleeping in that position throughout the night will definitely leave the body with a hurting back. This is because the spinal cord rests in an arched structure the entire night. As the head remains twisted to one side one will also experience pain in the neck area. On turning the head to one side, the muscles get relaxed and strain is put asymmetrically on the muscles and ligaments of the neck creating an imbalance. It is, therefore, best to sleep on the back or at the most on the side. But, even sleeping on the back puts a certain amount of pressure on the spinal cord. To avoid that and make the sleeping posture straight, one can lift the lower part of the body which partially reduces the stress on the back while sleeping. This can be done by setting a pillow under the knees.

    People create various odd postures while reading on the bed. Placing the cheek on the shoulder or the placing the neck on the headboard is some of the postures. This is accompanied by a huge number of pillows. These positions may feel comfortable at that moment, but continuing in that posture can take a toll on the spine. Supporting the neck and the back with pillows is essential while sitting up and resting the back on the bed.

  7. Sleeping on an Old Mattress

    A wrong mattress can lead to rather worrisome situations, one of them being back pain. It can give rise to or worsen the lower back pain. This is because, with ageing the mattress starts sagging in the middle. Thus, instead of sleeping on a comfortable, flat surface one sleeps on a curve surface that is bent in the middle. Sleeping on such a mattress can to uncomfortable sleep, feeling sore and stiff on the following morning and over the time it leads to chronic back pain. It reinforces strained muscles, poor sleeping postures and disrupts the spine alignment.

    This continues for a long time until a new mattress is bought, which is mostly done after a spring or two gets exposed or the mattress gives away entirely. Sleep is also compromised if the mattress does not serve the individual’s purpose. Therefore, sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress for a large span of time simply does not let one to shoo off the back pain caused by it. This results in poor sleep which in turn leads to exhaustion and this lingers on forming a vicious cycle. Pillows can give relief to the situation but only temporarily. It helps releasing pressure on the back in the meantime.

    A permanent solution would be purchasing a new mattress that will support the back and reduce lower back pain. It will allow the spine to rest and restore throughout the night.

  8. Lifting and Carrying Heavy Loads

    Does not matter if one is lifting their luggage, baby or pet, an incorrect way of lifting heavy load may give immense back. There are correct ways and incorrect ways of lifting heavy objects. An incorrect method will be any way one picks heavy loads which put a lot of pressure on the back. However, the correct method is- the legs should be at par with the shoulder gap, do not bend over but squat and just put the stress on the hips and the knees and not the back (while keeping it straight). Keep the head down. Avoid twisting in all circumstances. Hold the load as close as possible.

    Carrying a heavy backpack around also affects the back severely. The backpack contains a lot of unnecessary items but is any way stuffed with them. So if it is going to happen then it is better to take precautions ahead of time. It is suggested that the bag should be worn on both the shoulders. The bag should have a waistband to take some load off the shoulders and the back. A rolling bag can also be taken help of for carrying things around. It is better to discard the unnecessary items like children carry extra books, copies, devices and other accessories that actually affect their back. Even women carry handbags that heavy which also hurts the back. One should deal in the same way in which backpacks are dealt.

    Women love jewelry but it is not wise to hang extremely chunky neck pieces, as it may put pressure on the neck region, it also gives rise to shoulder pain and back pain. If the necklace is very close to the heart then it can be worn but for short intervals only.

  9. Smartphones

    Most of the people are stuck to their smartphones nowadays. It leads to something called the “tech-neck”. One has to lean forward to take a look at the screen and this continuous bending over leaves the upper part of the spine in an over-flexed situation which over time presses the discs in the spine.

    It is good to multitask. But it is often interrupted by phone calls. Instead of leaving the work at hand we place the phone on our ears and keep it in place with the shoulders. But this is not really good for the neck. In this posture the nerves in the neck are getting pinched which can end in painful cramps later on. Using a headphone instead can help the cause.

  10. Jobs

    Everybody is busy nowadays. Everybody has to do their jobs regularly. In regularly doing the jobs, people end up slouching on the seats. This heavily strains the lower back generating pain. One has to sit at their desk for long intervals of time, as long as 8 to 9 hours. Doctors have thus advised the employees not to sit throughout the day.(3)

    These people should go for a walk around the office every now and then, engage themselves in talking to other people by standing up and going to their desks. At times also indulge into exercising the neck so that it doesn’t gets stuck or frozen.

  11. Putting Sunscreen and the Role of Vitamin D

    No one could have ever thought that putting sunscreen on the face can actually result in backache. But it is true. The body makes vitamin D only when exposed to the sunlight. If we put on sunscreen then that path of receiving direct sunlight shuts down. The entire requirement for the body cannot be fulfilled by food only. Therefore, only 15 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight shall solve the problem. Vitamin D is so essential because it helps in absorbing calcium which is in turn helpful in strengthening bones. One can take the help of digital UV ray emitter or vitamin D supplements.

  12. Wearing High Heels

    The high heels that feel so elegant and classy can actually be the reason for back pain. The angle at which the stilettos place the ankle creates tension in the spine. This results in aching in lower back, shoulder and neck. It is advised not to wear such high heels on a regular basis. To counteract the damage caused by wearing the shoes one can wear flats or wedges (any form of chunky heels) or other forms of comfortable shoes. This will lessen the pressure on the back when standing.

  13. Wearing Bra Improperly

    Wearing bra improperly can lead to back pain and thus wearing it properly will solve the problem. The bra is pinned very high by a lot of women which may feel comfortable, but results in curving the back giving rise to a poor posture. Women should go for bras that fit well and are supportive and also should pin them a little lower.

  14. Poor Food Habits and Weight

    Calcium is essential for the bone health. If someone has given up dairy products (which is a major source of calcium) due to being lactose intolerance then the bones are bound to suffer. The bones can get softer and thus the spine may not be able to hold that much pressure as before. It will therefore be the cause of severe back pain.

    Green leafy vegetables and fish can be other sources for calcium.

    Consuming too much caffeine in the form of coffee or soda can lead to backache. This decreases the calcium absorption power of the body. So, if caffeine intake in high one needs to be sure of a high level of calcium intake.

    Due to improper diet or other health factors, one may suffer from obesity. Too much weight is not good for the spine. One may suffer from pain in the lower back because of obesity. If a person has the most concentration of fat in the mid-section of the body then the center of gravity gets entirely shifted forward putting extra pressure on the back muscles. Moreover, an excess strain is experienced by the spine, knees, hips and feet. The fat in the central section forces the lumbar discs in swelling up. This results in pinched nerves, disc joint, lumbar imbalance and sciatica. A wholesome diet, regular exercise and a disciplined life can help reduce weight and therefore give relief from unnecessary back pain.

Additional Ways To Avoid Back Pain Include:

A hurting back can be very irritating. There are a few home remedies that can be useful for getting relief from back pain if the cause can be tackled at home. One can use hot bags or cold bags to soothe the pain. It also reduces inflammation and works as an anesthetic. Exercise regularly and do not forget to stretch the hamstrings.

Ointments and pain rubs also help in relieving the pain by cutting off the sensation. They desensitize the pain channels of the affected area. Some topical creams include cayenne, Brazilian arnica, lidocaine, ibuprofen, etc. The medications come in the form of creams, patches, gels and more. Essential oils like lavender can also relieve the pain.

Massaging tense muscles also helps. It improves back function, reduces pain in the back, lessen the consumption of medicines for back pain.

Magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt heals the sore muscles of the back, mainly after exercise, working its way through the skin.

Engaging the brain in something other work rather than retrieving signals of pain, it can sometimes actually reduce the pain. This is because in many cases the doctors have noticed that pain can be more than just a sensation, it can also be psychological.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 25, 2019

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