Back pain is, well, a pain! Unfortunately, it’s also very common.
About 65 million Americas report suffering from recent back pain, with about 16 million experiencing chronic back pain. Thanks to its prevalence, back pain is the sixth most expensive condition in the US, costing an estimated $12 billion in healthcare expenses each year!
Don’t worry, though; there’s good news: you don’t have to live with back pain forever. You can reduce your back pain and live a comfortable, healthy, pain-free life with a few simple steps.
This blog will share our top tips for reducing back pain and feeling your best every day.
First Things First – What Causes Back Pain?
Before you can learn to reduce back pain, you’ve got to know what causes it. Today, we usually divide back pain into two types: chronic and acute.
Acute back pain is short-term and sudden, lasting from a few days to weeks or more. An accident or injury usually causes this type of back pain and many times it will get better with rest and simple treatments, like icing and heat.
On the other hand, chronic back pain is long-term and generally lasts over three months. While it’s less common than acute back pain, it can also be more challenging to resolve and may require surgery.
Whether you’re suffering from chronic or acute back pain, the following steps will help reduce or eliminate it.
6 Proven Steps to Reduce Back Pain
Want to live a pain-free life? Try these five steps:
1. Focus On Muscle-Strengthening And Stretching Exercises
While there are many causes of back pain, one of the most common is weak supporting muscles. To strengthen the muscles that support the spine, do muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises at least twice a week.
Besides strengthening the muscles that support and maintain your spine, strengthening and stretching exercises will improve your range of motion and mobility.
2. Practice Good Posture
Good posture can go a long way to reducing back pain, especially if you feel discomfort in your lower back.
As you go through your day, focus on standing with your head up, shoulders straight, chest forward, hips tucked under your body, and weight distributed evenly between both feet.
If you spend a chunk of the day sitting, practice moving your pelvis to the back of the seat and keeping both feet flat on the floor. Pull your stomach in and square your shoulders. Finally, adjust your computer monitor to view it straight-on, rather than looking down at it.
3. Lift The Right Way
As much as you can, avoid heavy lifting (lifting weights is an exception). If you have to lift something heavy in your daily life, bend your knees, keep your back straight, and use your leg muscles to shift the weight.
If you’re interested in starting a strength training or weight lifting program in the gym, be sure to book a few appointments with a private trainer to learn proper form and injury prevention tactics.
4. Lose Excess Weight
Being overweight can put additional strain on your back. Overweight people tend to be at greater risk for back pain, joint pain, and muscle strain, among other conditions.
The reason for this is simple: being overweight places more strain on your muscles, joints, and spine, as well as the ligaments that hold everything in place. The spine tilts and stresses unevenly to compensate for extra body weight, eventually losing its natural curvature and becoming tender and painful.
If you currently suffer from back pain, losing weight could help reduce it – especially if you tend to carry excess weight around your midsection. If you’re interested in losing weight, work with a skilled nutritionist and trainer to ensure you do it safely and in a way that’s respectful for your body.
5. Stay Active
Move it or lose it! That goes for a strong, pain-free back as much as it does anything else. Instead of resting an achy back, keep moving. Gentle exercises like walking, yoga, or swimming help maintain flexibility in the muscles and ligaments of the back and reduce pain in both the short- and long-term.
If you already suffer from back pain and you’re considering beginning a new activity, be sure to check with your doctor first. You may also want to work with a personal trainer to keep your back and joints safe and avoid putting yourself at risk for further injuries.
6. Bonus: Eat A Healthy Diet
Finally, eat a healthy diet to reduce back pain! Research shows that foods like green tea, bright-colored vegetables and fruits, dark, leafy greens, and olive oil can all reduce inflammation in the cartilage in the spinal column and reduce pain and stiffness in the back.
As you focus on incorporating more of those foods into your diet, you’ll also want to focus on reducing inflammatory foods like pasta, rice, sugar, fried foods, and anything with partially hydrogenated oil as an ingredient.
You may also want to take a calcium supplement to help support the vertebrae in your spine or consume lots of calcium-rich foods like yogurt, milk, cheese, and leafy green vegetables.
The Role of Personal Training in Reducing Back Pain
If your back pain has been chronic and long-lasting, consider hiring a personal trainer to help you meet your fitness goals without injuring yourself. Here at Alloy, for example, we offer expert personal coaching and small group training designed to meet you where you are now, and help you achieve your full potential down the road.
Our coaches will work with you, your body, and your history to craft a fitness routine that helps you get stronger without causing you to experience more back pain. Even better, our coaches can create a routine designed to help you address challenges and reduce or eliminate your back pain in the long run.
Kick Back Pain to the Curb
Back pain can decrease your quality of life and make everyday activities difficult or impossible. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with back pain forever. By employing the tactics in this article, including stretching, doing muscle-strengthening exercises, maintaining good posture, losing excess weight, staying active, and eating a healthy diet, you can reduce or eliminate your back pain and enjoy a more comfortable life for years to come.