Maintain a healthy weight. Staying fit is one of the most important recommendations for avoiding back pain, says Santiago Figuereo, MD, neurological surgeon and founder and medical director of the Miami Neurological Institute. Extra pounds stress your back and can cause pain. Eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables and low on processed foods can keep your weight in a healthy range and you’re back healthy.
Keep your back muscles strong. The
most common back problems happen because people who aren't in shape start doing
heavy lifting or hard work and stress their back, Dr. Figuereo says. Back pain
usually happens when there's degeneration of the spine because the spine is
working too hard. But when you build up enough muscle strength in your back
with exercise, the muscles give your spine the support it needs to keep it
healthy. That's why physical therapy is standard back pain treatment, but being
in shape can help you avoid back pain to begin with.
Stretch your muscles. In
addition to exercise, stretching is important for staying flexible and avoiding
back problems. It's also a key part of recovering from a back injury. Stretch
before doing heavy lifting or exercise and make a habit of doing it before bed.
Stretches can be as simple as bending forward, bending back, and bending side
to side, says Neil Kirschen, MD, chief of pain management in the department of
anesthesiology at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. The
ultimate stretching exercise: yoga.
Focus on good posture. Poor
posture is another major contributor of back pain. Standing up straight with
your ears over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hip joints, and your
hip joints over your ankles will help keep your healthy pain-free. When you're
sitting, getting a chair that's designed to keep your back straight
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