Back pain is a common complaint and a condition that can be debilitating, but given our lifestyles, we almost expect to feel some aches and pains the older we get. And that’s for a reason, the more we sit at desks and the less active we are, the higher our chances of experiencing the inconvenience and pain that comes with a sore back.
And while it seems like back pain is on the rise, especially as we age, one need not surrender to a life aches and pains. There are plenty of things you can do to stay ahead of the hurt. Isn’t there a saying that says, “Happy back, happy life”? Well, maybe not, but there should be!
So how do you keep yourself from having a sore back? For one, keep it strong. Exercising your lower, mid and upper back muscles with targeted movements will help reduce the frequency of pain if you’re already experiencing it, and will help prevent it in the future. Try getting on all fours and extending the opposite leg and arm, balancing on the other hand and knee, and holding the position for a count of five. Or try lying on your stomach and, using your back muscles to help, lifting your upper back and legs off the ground with your arms stretched out in front or held together behind your head. Again hold for a count of five. The more strength you build, the easier it will be for your back to stay pain free.
When it comes to strengthening for a healthy back, working your core is just as important as working your back muscles. Having a strong core allows you to sit up straight and to carry your weight in good alignment so that your spine stays straight and strong. To strengthen your core, consider getting into the habit of reaching a certain number of crunches each day, doing some in the morning and some before you go to bed.
Speaking of a straight and strong spine, having good posture is an excellent way to help take some of the strain off your back. You can start by facing a mirror to see if your shoulders are on the same plane or if they are tilted to one side or another. Next, stand with your back against the wall and see if it’s comfortable to keep the back of your head against it. If your head naturally wants to move forward, it might be a sign that your posture needs work.
Once you’ve decided to work on sitting and standing up straight, try to take notice throughout the day to see if you are slouching or not. To achieve good posture, try rolling your shoulders up and away from your ears, then moving your shoulder blades in and down your back; keep your chin back slightly until it feels like your skull is sitting nicely on top of your spine. You can do this at work, at home, in the car, basically anywhere and everywhere.
Finally, as anything with your health and well-being, it’s important to consider your diet. What you put in your body effects everything else—how quickly you can build and maintain muscle, and how much energy you have to commit to those aforementioned back exercises. The better the diet, the better your overall health so it’s a good idea to take a look at how many whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and how much lean meat you are eating.
On the other hand, it’s good to be aware of how much sugar, unhealthy fat and excess red meat and alcohol you are consuming, too. The key is finding a balance that gives you the strength and energy you need to live a happy life while still having some joy in your life.
Keeping a strong and healthy back doesn’t have to be complicated, there are simple things you can do to build your strength like doing intervals at work or on commercial breaks if you’re watching tv, and always maintaining a balanced, healthy diet. If your back pain is chronic or unbearable, it might be worth going to see your doctor or getting a referral to see a physiotherapist. Your back and your health will thank you for it! Like us on Facebook for more blog posts and tips!