Roughly 8 out of 10 people suffer from back pain at some point during their lifetime. But while back pain might be the norm, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. By simply adding these tips into your everyday routine, you can not only combat but proactively prevent back pain.
Five tips to combat and prevent back pain:
- Stretch it out (or dare we say try yoga!). The American College of Physicians has begun to urge doctors to prescribe alternative therapies, like exercise, before prescribing drugs to treat lower back pain. Why? Because exercise, specifically yoga exercises, have been medically proven to alleviate pain. You don’t have to be super flexible or a regular yoga practitioner to reap the rewards of yoga. Here are two of go-to yoga poses when back pain starts
- Cat-Cow — Come to a tabletop position, knees stacked under your hips, hands stacked under your shoulders. On your inhale move into cow pose by dropping your belly, gazing up, shoulders draw down your back. On your exhale cat pose, round through your spine, belly button pulls in, press firmly into your hands to stretch out your upper back. Move through cat/cow 3-5 times.
- Supine twist — Lay down on your back and draw your right knee into your chest. Spend a breath or two rocking your knee from side to side to release the hip flexor. Plant your left arm on the mat; shoulder relaxed down. Draw your right knee across your body. Keep your shoulders down as you gently twist towards the left of the room, gaze over your right shoulder. Hold here for a few breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
- Strengthen your core, but skip the sit-ups. You need a strong core to support and protect your spine, but traditional sit-ups can take a toll on your back and in turn cause more pain. Thankfully there are plenty of other options to build core strength. Forearm plank, straight-arm plank, and side plank are all great postures you can hold that build strength in both your abdominals and lower back muscles. If you’re looking for something more intense, you can kick it up a notch with plank exercises like plank jacks, side plank hip dips, and mountain climbers.
- Try not to cross your legs as much. Crossing your legs puts stress on your lower spine and hips. Sitting up straight with your feet firmly planted on the ground is a quick and easy way to give your back a break. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the ground, grab a block, stool, or something sturdy to place under your feet. You’ll instantly notice the difference. (Go ahead, try it right now! You know your grade school teacher would be so proud.)
- Get up and move! Movement does the body good. Fifty-four percent of people who suffer from lower back pain sit at a desk all day. If you’re hunched over your computer working, get up and move around. If you’re someone whose job requires them to spend time on their feet all day, take care of yourself by stretching throughout the day. Legs up the wall and sphinx pose are two amazing yoga poses that will help alleviate the tension and stress built up after spending a long day sitting or standing.
- Support yourself while you sleep. A bad body position or poor mattress can take a serious toll on your spine. The goal is to neutralize your spine when you sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. A pillow can easily help you find a comfortable, neutral position throughout the night. For all the side sleepers out there, place the pillow between your knees and for all the back sleepers out there, position the pillow under your knees. If you tend to sleep on your stomach, try changing it up. When you sleep on your stomach, it causes your head and neck to twist, which in turn places stress on your upper back and spine.
If you suffer from back pain or want to prevent that achy, stiff feeling at the end of the day, try adding some of these tips into your everyday routine. Do you have something that works for you? Let us know so we can share with the BurnAlong community.