In recent years, lower back pain has become one of the most common reasons for people to miss work. However, this problem can affect much more than your career alone; severe lower-back pain can negatively impact your overall health, and even interfere with your personal life.
Approximately 95% of people experience a severe lower-back pain episode at least once in their lifetime, while 85% experience recurring episodes. Whether you’re suffering from acute or chronic back pain, it is imperative that you address it early, rather than waiting for it to simply go away on its own, as this can lead to more serious problems later on.
If you have been suffering from lower-back pain, keep reading to learn the most crucial steps you should take to restore your back health and improve your quality of life.
1. Maintain Good Posture
It is critical that you maintain proper posture, both when sitting and during physical activities. Improper posture can cause not only back pain, but also various other muscle aches.
When sitting at a desk, avoid slouching or hunching forward. This is especially important if you have a desk job that requires you to sit for prolonged periods of time. Leverage ergonomics to ensure you sit comfortably and adequately, effectively preventing and/or reducing back pain.
Finally, when engaging in physical activities that require lifting, make sure you squat and use your legs instead of your waist and back to support the weight. Otherwise, you may strain the muscles and end up with a severe injury.
2. Sleep in a Comfortable Bed
According to recent sleep and pain research, sleep disturbances can often make back pain worse. Additionally, the quality of your mattress greatly affects both sleep and back pain, so it is important to find the right mattress to reduce your pain and help you get a good night’s sleep.
For instance, if you tend to sleep on your back, you may need a firmer mattress. The same goes for sleeping on your stomach, although this isn’t the most ideal position if you suffer with back pain. If you tend to sleep on your side, you will likely need a softer (but not too soft) mattress. And, don’t forget about your pillow—it is just as important as your mattress, as it serves to align your neck and back properly while you sleep.
3. Strengthen Your Back Muscles
Your back muscles help support your spine. Consequently, your lower-back muscles have the hardest job, as they support your entire upper-body weight. Therefore, you must keep these unsung heroes strong with exercise.
There are several simple exercises you can do at home without even breaking a sweat. They will help you stretch, loosen, and strengthen your lower back muscles. Moreover, regular exercise is also a smart idea to keep your other muscles active and strong, as they can work together with your back muscles to prevent and limit pain, as well as offer better support for your overall health.
You can also relieve tension in your muscles with yoga. Yoga helps to improve posture, reduce stress, and improve sleep. Try not to rule it out as an option before trying it for yourself; it may seem tedious at first, but it can be very effective, especially during pain recovery.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Because your back muscles support your spine, your overall body weight directly affects their strength. Increased weight will add strain, which can weaken the muscles more and more over time. For this reason, it is essential that you try to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise will help you do this, but your diet plays an important role, too. Be careful to research which diets are genuinely effective. Be realistic in your weight loss goals, and don’t starve yourself. Your body needs certain nutrients to stay healthy, so it may be most beneficial to talk to a professional nutritionist who can create a personalized diet plan that is just right for you. In the meantime, some additional evidence-based dieting tips include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating protein-rich foods (like eggs) for breakfast
- Reducing sugar and refined carbs
- Eating more fiber and protein
- Packing on fruits and vegetables
4. Wear Proper Footwear
Wearing the right shoes can do wonders for your back health. Do you constantly wear high heels? They may be the source of your problems—especially if you wear them often. They increase pressure on your lower back, often causing severe and/or chronic pain, which will only worsen if you continue to wear them frequently. The same goes for flip-flops, as well as any other over- or under-supportive shoes.
Whenever you can, it’s best to wear flat shoes that offer sufficient support for your feet. While your spine bears your weight, the shoes you wear make a huge difference in how efficiently you carry that weight. You can still look fabulous without the high heels; give your back a rest and save them for special occasions only.
5. Use Hot and Cold Treatments
Studies have shown that hot and cold treatments can also greatly relieve back pain.
For example, ice packs can help you reduce inflammation when you’re dealing with strained muscles or other like injuries. Similarly, heating pads can help you relieve pain in achy muscles by helping to relax any buildup of tension.
Do You Need Professional Advice?
Each of the above tips is paramount for your back and overall health. However, you need to know when you should see a doctor, too. Did you know that back pain can be one of the first heart attack symptoms for women? This alone is enough to merit having a reliable doctor on call—at the very least, just in case.
ARcare Clinic is the most reputable family medical care office in Arkansas. Regardless of your situation, we are the practice you can trust. Whether you need a consultation, a recovery plan, or perhaps orthopedic services, we’re here for you. Our clinic works with board-certified family care providers who can take perfect care of your health.
For more information, give us a call today at 866-550-4719, or visit our website today to schedule an appointment!