If you’ve ever relieved back pain by sticking a cushion behind your back, you’ll know how small changes can make a big difference to back pain. But are there any quick ways to prevent back pain in the first place?
The answer depends on the nature of your back pain. Occasional back pain is symptomatic of aggravating an old injury or sleeping funny, while chronic back pain is usually a symptom of something more serious, like a medical condition.
The good news is most back pain can be prevented and alleviated relatively quickly. Here are some quick changes you can make today:
Sleep on a comfortable mattress
Pictured: Sleepeezee Jessica 1800 Pocket Gel Mattress, Available from Bedstar The Online Bed Superstore.
If you wake up with back pain, your mattress could be blamed. The easiest way to choose a mattress is based on what position you sleep in:
- Side sleepers need a medium mattress
- Front sleepers need a soft to medium-soft mattress
- Back sleepers need a medium to medium-firm mattress
The technology of the mattress (e.g., foam, hybrid, sprung) determines the feel, such as how squishy, bouncy and pressure-relieving it is.
A Memory foam mattress or hybrid mattress is perfect for most back pain because the memory foam has body-contouring qualities. However, if you need more support, a sprung mattress should be top of your list.
Stretch every morning and night
Stretching before bed and after waking up keeps your muscles and ligaments strong and healthy. Providing you don’t overexert yourself when stretching, stretching will help prevent back pain by loosening up your muscles.
Work on your core strength
If you have lower back pain, you might need to work on your core strength. A strong core prevents back pain by making lifting and moving easier. If your core is weak, then your back and other muscles in your body have to work harder.
Healthline has a detailed guide on core exercises. The most important thing is to take it slow and build your core strength over time.
Lose some weight
Carrying extra pounds in your midsection shifts your centre of gravity and strains your lower back. You will also find it more challenging to do everyday things.
Staying within five pounds of your ideal body weight is the perfect scenario. You can calculate your ideal weight using the NHS’s BMI calculator.
Pay attention to your posture
Your posture plays a significant role in back pain. Poor posture causes back pain by increasing the load on your spine, which causes weakness in your muscles. Over time, it can create chronic back pain that is hard to alleviate.
Here are some of the most common posture mistakes:
- Slouching in a chair
- Standing with a flat back
- Standing with one leg out
- Hunching over when reading
- Sticking your bottom out when standing
Work at a comfortable height
Whether you sit in front of an office desk or a welding desk all day, working at a comfortable height will prevent back pain.
You can get an adjustable office chair or an adjustable workbench depending on what you do. Work on your posture if you stand all day (see above).
Sit in the driver’s seat properly
Your driver’s seat should be positioned so that your spine rests flat against it, and the chair should be high enough, so you don’t need to lean forwards.
If your seat doesn’t have lumbar support and prone to lower back pain, you can place a small cushion behind your back instead.
Use proper lifting technique
Incorrect lifting can cause serious injury to your back and hips, from slipped discs to trapped nerves and muscle tears.
Before lifting anything, consider if you can. If it is heavy, ask for help or use equipment that will lift for you or share the load.
The Health and Safety Executive has an excellent guide to lifting correctly. As a rule, bend your hips and knees to squat down to your load and straighten your legs to lift. Don’t lean over the load or lift with your back.