8 Tips to Prevent Back Pain

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The coming of winter means those who suffer from back pain need to take extra precautions. If you dread shoving the snow, if you can’t bend over to tie your shoes, or if you ice your back so you can sit at your desk, you have company. Four out of five people experience back pain at some point in their lives. It’s the second most common reason for visiting the doctor.

Surprisingly, back pain isn’t always caused by trauma (like a fall or car accident). The simple acts of twisting to reach for an object, sitting at a computer, or bending over to pull some weeds can send you into a painful spasm.

There are things you can do to keep your back healthy. Here are eight tips, courtesy of WebMD and the Mayo Clinic:

1. Exercise. Moving regularly can help reduce muscle tension. Regular, low-impact activities like walkingand swimming are often good choices.

2. Seek out a six-pack. No, not that kind.  We’re talking about your abs! A strong core (abdominal and back muscles) acts like a natural corset for your back. Try some of these exercises.

3. Watch your weight. Extra pounds can strain your lower back muscles. Aim to stay within 10 pounds of your ideal weight.

4. Stand up straight. Good posture helps you maintain the natural curves of your back and keep it strong. Have to stand for a long period of time? Put one foot on a low footstool (alternate feet) to take some of the stress off your back.

5. Sit smart. Choose a seat with a straight back or good lower back support. And if you sit most of the day, set a timer on your phone to remind yourself to get up and walk at least once an hour.

6. Let your legs do the work. When lifting a heavy object, keep your back straight and bend your knees. Pull in your stomach muscles and hold the object close to your body as you stand up. No twisting! And if you can, push rather than pull heavy objects – it’s easier on your back.

7. Ditch the high heels. Sorry, ladies, but they’re not great for your lower back. If you have to go higher than a one-inch heel, stash a pair of more sensible shoes in your bag just in case you need them.

8. Switch how you sleep. Sleeping on your side with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest may help if you have back pain. Back sleeper? Put a pillow under your knees and another under your lower back.