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Beating Bad Back Pain
Even though back pain affects nearly 10 million Americans a year, there’s a lot you can do to avoid the problem, an expert says.
It begins with healthy habits, including not smoking along with maintaining proper weight through good nutrition and exercise. Good posture, balance, strength and flexibility help increase core strength to support the back.
“All these elements can preserve a good back, keep our bones and bodies strong and help the body heal should injury occur,” Kathy Dieringer, a National Athletic Trainers’ Association board member, said via a news release.
To maintain good posture, keep your shoulders back when sitting, avoid slouching and don’t sit for more than 30 minutes without moving around.
It’s also important to support your back when sitting or sleeping. Sit with your knees slightly bent and higher than your hips. When in bed, try to maintain your lumbar curves and use pillows if necessary, Dieringer said.
Core muscles make up the “powerhouse” in the center of your body, according to the Federal Occupational Health website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Core muscles include abdominal muscles, back muscles and muscles in the pelvic region.
Eating a healthy diet also is important. For one thing, eating to maintain a healthy weight—or to lose weight, if you are overweight—helps you avoid putting unnecessary and injury-causing stress and strain on your back. To keep your spine strong, as with all bones, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day. These nutrients help prevent osteoporosis, which is responsible for a lot of the bone fractures that lead to back pain.
Calcium is found in dairy products; green, leafy vegetables; and fortified products, like orange juice. Your skin makes vitamin D when you are in the sun. If you are not outside much, you can obtain vitamin D from your diet: nearly all milk and some other foods are fortified with this nutrient. Most adults don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, so talk to your doctor about how much you need per day, and consider taking a nutritional supplement or a multivitamin.
Practicing good posture, supporting your back properly, and avoiding heavy lifting when you can may all help you prevent injury. If you do lift something heavy, keep your back straight. Don’t bend over the item; instead, lift it by putting the stress on your legs and hips.
If you’re inactive, get moving. Walking is a great way to maintain good back health.
Content for this article provided by Healthday.com and the Department of Health and Human Services.