If you suffer with back pain, you are not alone. It is estimated that up to 8 in every 10 people in the UK are affected by back pain at some point in their lives. This can range from pain in your neck, upper and middle back, lower back and the buttocks. In most cases the pain is not caused by anything serious and will resolve by itself. If your back pain persists for more than a few weeks and interrupts your day-to-day activities, it is advised to see your Doctor or Consultant.
With so many people suffering with back pain at some point in their lives, we encourage our patients to take the following strategies to reduce their risk of injury, to minimise pain, prevent its recurrence and speed up recovery times. It mainly comes down to leading a healthy lifestyle and adopting good habits
Here are our top tips for preventing back pain;
1. Exercise. Regular exercise and stretches can help to ease pain and stiffness, plus it will strengthen your muscles and bones. In the UK, adults are advised to do 150 minutes of exercise a week. This sounds like a lot, but you can easily achieve it by walking to and from the shops or work for half an hour, 5 days a week. If you have suffered with back pain in the past your consultant or physiotherapist may have recommended particular exercises or stretches to try. We encourage you to do these regularly to prevent the onset of back pain.
2. Check your posture. Whether sitting at your desk or on the sofa, walking, standing and lifting, it is important to be aware of your posture. It is easy to slip in to bad habits such as slouching or handling objects incorrectly when lifting. Be conscious of sitting for too long, whether you are sitting at a desk or driving, remember to take breaks to stand up and walk around.
3. Weight loss. If you are overweight this shifts your centre of gravity forward which creates added stress on your lower back. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if you are overweight can reduce your risk of back pain. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help you to achieve this.
4. Eating for strong bones. To maintain bone strength, we need good sources of calcium and Vitamin D in our diet. Calcium comes from dairy products and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin D is commonly known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as we mainly get this from the sun during the summer months. There are some food sources including eggs and fortified grain products. However, Public Health England advise that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of Vitamin D, particularly during the autumn and winter.
5. Wearing the right shoes. If you spend a lot of time walking or standing, consider your footwear. High heels or uneven shoes can impact your posture and place unnecessary stress on your back.
6. Quit smoking. Research has found a high prevalence of spinal stenosis and back pain amongst smokers. One suspected reason is that smoking damages blood vessels that supply the back. Plus, smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.