Whether the result of a strained muscle or a health condition, most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. For many, this back pain will be temporary and can be relieved with an ibuprofen or a quick stretch. However, those who find themselves experiencing chronic or severe back pain may need to see their doctor as this could indicate other problems.
Many of us experience back pain at work due to the requirements of our job; heaving lifting, repetitive movements, and sitting at a desk all day can all take a toll on your back and cause stiffness, aches, and pain. The most common types of back pains are muscle spasms which can be caused by most daily activities from stretching to bending; however more serious conditions can affect the vertebrae disks, whether from aging (disk degeneration), arthritis, or issues affecting the sacroiliac joints.
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain is often caused by one of the following: force, posture, and stress. These are the most common contributors to back pain, especially in the work environment. Force occurs when you exert too much pressure on your back, such as when lifting or moving heavy objects. Those in factory and construction work, as well as most physical laborers, are at most risk for these types of injury. Many workplaces now either provide or require that employees wear a back brace in order to stave off injuries. Posture and stress injuries most often occur in those who lead more sedentary lives, such as those with desk jobs or whose jobs require less mobility. Slouching can lead to muscle fatigue and eventual injury, while pressure and stress levels cause muscle tension and tightness which exacerbate back problems. For older patients, back pain may indicate arthritis, disk slippage or deterioration, or another health condition.
How to Avoid Back Pain
- Work it out: Exercise has been linked to improvements in every aspect of health and this is not different. Maintaining a healthy weight decreases stress on your back and regular exercise will strengthen chest, back and core muscles which will distribute effort evenly on your body as opposed to putting strain on your back. In order to support the spine, the most important muscles to strengthen are the abdominals. As for cardio, the best exercises are also the most simple – walking, biking, swimming and walking up the stairs!
- Straighten Up!: If you spend much of your day seated, make sure that your desk and chair are positioned in such a way as to alleviate back strain. When seated, your feet should touch the floor and knees should be level with hips. Be sure to provide lumbar support for your lower back, either by placing a rolled up towel or pillow at your lower back, or by investing in a supportive lumbar brace.
- Lift Correctly: When lifting, carrying, and lowering objects, bend your knees to squat down, grasp the object squarely, and tighten your core (abdominal) muscles to lift. Be sure to pay attention to how you are lifting the object so that you do not bend at the waist and put all the strain of carrying the object on your back.
- Back Strengthening & Stretching: In addition to strength training with weights and cardio, back stretches are crucial for keeping the sacroiliac joints healthy and strengthening the spine. We recommend doing these stretches 2-3 times a week at least.
- Sleeping Positions: Humans spend about a third of our lives in bed yet few of us stop to consider how our beds are impacting our backs. Many sleep-related backaches are due to a mattress that is too soft. Additionally, consider your sleeping position – sleeping on your side or back are best, but sleeping on your stomach can cause back strain.
Note: if you experience chronic back pain that is severe or in addition to other conditions, please see a doctor.
About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a premier supplier of high quality medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces and supports. MMAR Medical specializes in high quality orthopedic medical back braces, including lumbar braces.