Almost everyone has had bad posture at some point in their life, especially if they sit at a desk or in the car for a good amount of the day. Slouching can add serious strain to the spine, which is the main support system of the whole body. Plus, the longer you have bad posture, the more likely you are to have a complete change in the structure of the spine. If you’re sitting, make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your hips are aligned with your shoulders. If you’re standing, make sure your posture is correct by moving your shoulders “up, back and down.” Once you get used to practicing good posture, it should just come naturally to you.
A Weak Core
All of us have dreamed of having the perfect six-pack. But, did you know that having a strong core (which also includes your lower back) is more than just aesthetic? Many people do not realize that our core is a major component to supporting our spine and body as a whole. Practicing core exercises (like crunches, squats, planks and supermans) can help your core to better support your body and, in turn, reduce your back pain.
Bad Sleeping Habits
Sleeping is a way for your body to heal itself and recharge for the next day. However, if your go-to sleeping position in lying on your stomach, you may be doing more bad than good. Sleeping on your stomach has the potential to cause increased pressure on joints and muscles, including your spine. By staying in this position for such long periods of time and so often, you could be doing some serious short-term and long-term damage to your spine and back. If possible, try to get yourself in the habit of sleeping on your side or back (the back is ideal), because these sleeping positions elongate your spine and relieve pressure there. If you have to sleep on your stomach, place a thin pillow underneath you to alleviate some of the pressure and always make sure you are sleeping on a supportive mattress.
Most people are on their feet a good amount of the day, especially those with physically demanding jobs, like waiters and construction workers. If you don’t have comfortable and supportive shoes, all of the strain on your feet will also wreak havoc on your back. As previously mentioned, the back and spine are the major support system for your whole body. Therefore, standing or walking for long periods of time with no support makes it harder for your back to support your body. Avoid wearing high heels regularly, and when possible, wear shock-absorbing shoes. Gel inserts are also a great tool to make unsupportive shoes more back friendly!
Although lying down might help your back pain short-term, a sedentary lifestyle will actually cause your pain to worsen. Moving your body has been scientifically proven to help with pain, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner or star athlete! Low-impact exercises, like yoga, walking or swimming, can help relieve your back pain without putting unneeded stress on your body or exacerbating your pain. In particular, yoga focuses on strengthening and stretching your muscles, which can positively affect your spine’s flexibility and function.
If you need yet another reason to quit this bad habit, this is it. The nicotine found in cigarettes can significantly contribute to pain in your lower back, because it limits blood flow to the discs in your spine that cushion vertebrae. This can lead to increased degeneration. It also causes your body to absorb less calcium, which can lead to slower growth of new bones. This can create a multitude of problems, including osteoporotic fractures. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to suffer these types of fractures than non-smokers.
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