Chronic back pain is a wide-spread problem affecting as many as eight out of ten people at some point in their lives. Ongoing back pain can occur as a result of injury, overwork or disease processes. Pain management will likely include working with a physical therapist or other medical specialist in order to reduce the intensity and/or the frequency of pain symptoms. However, there are a number of techniques and tips that individuals can use to prevent back pain from occurring.

Exercise and Diet

Exercise may be the last thing on a pain patient’s mind, but regular exercise is the most important component to any pain management therapy and is also a great preventative measure. Exercise helps keep the back muscles limber and strengthens them so that they do not place undue stress on the spine. Exercise also increases blood flow and eases inflammation. Stretching before and after physical activity is essential; without proper stretching the muscles can become strained which will increase back pain rather than lessen it. However, static stretching is counterproductive. Stretching must be performed in specific movements which move into new range of motion and move out of it.

 It is also important to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight, particularly in the core area, can increase the stress on the back and perpetuate pain symptoms. So in addition to exercise, eating a healthy diet is very important. Ensuring that there is enough vitamin D in the diet can help keep bones healthy and strong as well. Medical professionals can advise patients on the best types of exercise for their specific pain symptoms.

Maintain Good Posture and Sleeping Positions

Many chronic pain patients have jobs that require them to sit for extended periods throughout the day. While this may seem to place less stress on the back muscles, sitting for log periods can place as much or more strain on the back muscles than physical activity. Sitting compresses the spongy discs between the vertebrae and causes them to lose fluid, which provides their nourishment. To combat this effect, sit up straight and use a chair that provides good lumbar support. Place the knees slightly above the hips when sitting and place them on a short stool if possible. Take frequent breaks and walk around or stretch regularly to ease stress on the spine and back muscles.

Learn to Lift Properly

One of the chief complaints that chronic pain patients have is the limitations that the pain imposes on their daily activities. Even completing routine household tasks can seem monumental in the face of back pain. Learning to lift properly can prevent back pain and allow patients to complete household tasks and engage in favored activities with fewer limitations.

Bending over from the waist to lift can cause serious back problems; instead bend at the knee and lift with the leg muscles. Hold the item close to the body and do not pivot the body while lifting. Keep the item between the armpit and knees when moving it and keep in mind that light objects can cause just as much damage as heavy ones if not lifted properly.

Learn to Lift Properly

One of the chief complaints that chronic pain patients have is the limitations that the pain imposes on their daily activities. Even completing routine household tasks can seem monumental in the face of back pain. Learning to lift properly can prevent back pain and allow patients to complete household tasks and engage in favored activities with fewer limitations.

Bending over from the waist to lift can cause serious back problems; instead bend at the knee and lift with the leg muscles. Hold the item close to the body and do not pivot the body while lifting. Keep the item between the armpit and knees when moving it and keep in mind that light objects can cause just as much damage as heavy ones if not lifted properly.

Wear Proper Shoes and Clothing

Wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes is another great way to lessen pain. While fashion may dictate higher heels and narrower toe boxes, these types of shoes are extremely detrimental for the back and spine. Heels higher than one inch can really take a toll on the muscles and actually misalign the bones in the spine, increasing pain. If high heels must be worn, limit the amount of time and bring lower heeled shoes to change into.

In addition, wear looser fitting clothing. Tight pant and jeans can create pressure on the muscles and bones which can create pain and reduce blood flow as well.

Be Aware of the Distribution of Weight that is Carried Routinely

Carrying pocket books, messenger bags, briefcases and other types of totes has become routine not only for women, but for men as well. Loading up a pack with all the accouterments that harried people need each day can take a toll on back muscles. Using a proper bag and remembering to redistribute the weight routinely can help alleviate pain significantly. The best type of bag to carry is one that has a wide strap, preferably padded, that can be placed on the opposite shoulder to help with the weight distribution. Remember to switch the weight periodically, especially if carrying a bag by handles rather than with a shoulder strap.

Using these techniques and tips can significantly reduce the experience of pain and can also improve overall health as well. If pain persists more than a couple of days, it is advisable to consult a medical professional and/or physical therapist so that a specialized treatment plan can be developed based on the specific type of pain and injury that an individual is experiencing. Careful management and medical intervention can help back pain patients find relief and enjoy a full and more productive life.