An alarming number of Americans are suffering from back pain. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans experience back pain in a lifetime.
In fact, approximately 80% of all Americans suffer from an incident of lower back pain. Furthermore, roughly $100 billion is spent per year on diagnosing and treating it.
The prevalence of this medical ailment begs the question, what steps can be taken to maintain a strong and healthy back? There are a number of ways to keep the back in top condition. Read on to explore 8 essential back care tips to help reduce pain.
1) Cut Body Fat and Lose the Extra Pounds
There is a direct correlation between back pain and obesity. The prevalence of back pain is on the rise, while the number of obese Americans is at epidemic levels.
Changing one’s diet is one effective way to reduce back pain while recovering from a back injury. A healthy diet is also effective as a preventative measure.
Why is obesity a trigger for increased back pain? Extra pounds place an additional burden on the body. The additional weight puts undue pressure on the spine, lower back, and other body parts.
2) Back Care Includes Routine Exercise
One action that is commonly overlooked in back care is routine exercise. There are a number of activities that strengthen the muscles in the lower back and spine.
A gym membership is not required to achieve the level of exercise needed for back care. It could be as simple as electing to walk up and down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Many individuals promote wellness by taking a brisk walk during lunch time or walking a pet.
These light activities are beneficial because they increase blood flow to the lower back and spine. This is the body’s way to deliver fluids and nutrients to this region of the body.
Additionally, routine exercise burns calories and sheds fat. As outlined above, this is another method to reduce pressure on the lower back and spine.
3) Incorporate Back Stretches
Taking the stairs and a brisk walk is just the tip of the iceberg. The next step of a healthy exercise routine is back stretches and light weight training.
Stretching is beneficial because it increases muscle flexibility. As a result, there is a reduced risk for back strains, muscle pulls, and spasms.
There are a number of effective back stretches. A solid stretch routine includes back flexion, knee to chest, and kneeling lunge stretches.
In addition to stretching, yoga and Pilates are known to strengthen the back. A steady regimen of back stretches also prepares the body for light weight training.
4) Add Light Weight Training to the Workout Plan
Light exercise and stretching is a precursor to weight training. This is the culmination of a back strengthening plan.
Weight training is more of a preventative measure for back pain. Individuals who are currently suffering from back pain should consult with a physical therapist before performing any exercises with weights.
Like stretching, there are a number of different weight training exercises. Amongst many others, exercises such as rows, planks, and back extensions are effective.
If attending the gym is difficult, there are many exercises can be done at home with a dumbbell. Even exercises like hip raises and pushups get the job done.
5) Post-Injury Treatment
Many of the steps outlined above are intended to prevent back injuries from occurring in the first place. What should someone do in the immediate aftermath of an injury?
The first step is to rest and allow the back time to heal. The next action is to utilize ice and heat directly on the back.
Ice is recommended in the first 48 hours after an injury. The reason for ice application is that it reduces inflammation at the source of the injury.
On the other hand, heat is applied to increase blood flow. Additionally, heat reduces muscle spasms and eases tension in the back.
6) Buy a Back Support Belt
Experienced weightlifters are often observed wearing a back support belt for specific exercises. The premise behind the belt is that it supports the back and reduces the risk of injury while exercising.
Many athletes use a back support belt to continue competing after experiencing back pain. For example, golfers utilize a belt to improve the spine angle while swinging a club.
Besides weightlifting and sports, there are many applications for a back support belt depending on the severity of the injury. Immediately after a back injury, some patients wear a belt to conduct simple tasks like driving or walking.
Not only does it relieve pain, but back support belts also improve posture. Better back posture leads to long-term benefits for back care.
7) Reduce Occupational Hazards
Many people are injured while on the job. Occupations that require heavy lifting often contribute to back injuries.
For individuals that have a physically demanding job, steps need to be taken to reduce the risk of an injury. This means getting the help of a co-worker to lift heavy items.
It also means being conscious of how items are lifted. Heavy items should be lifted using the legs, rather than the back. Additionally, carry items close to the chest. Lastly, try to avoid twisting while carrying or lifting heavy items.
Those who work a desk job are also at risk. Make sure to get up and walk around frequently. Select a chair with a backrest and emphasize good posture by keeping feet flatly on the floor.
8) Purchase a Good Mattress
Many people do not realize how important a mattress is to back care. Considering most people are in bed for one-third of the day, it is critical to reducing back pain.
There is no one-size-fits-all mattress for reducing back pain. Instead, a medical professional will recommend the right mattress based on height, weight, and sleep position. The specific back ailment also plays into this decision.
Wrapping It Up
Reducing back pain depends on a number of lifestyle changes. These changes include incorporating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
There are items available for purchase that can help as well. Back support belts and mattresses are effective in long-term back care.
For more information on preventing and reducing back pain, please contact us for assistance.