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Preventing Back Pain

Back Pain can be prevented by strengthening and stretching exercises for the muscles support the back, good posture, practicing safe bending and lifting techniques,and weight control.

Lifting Techniques

Anything that causes extra stress or pressure on the muscles, ligaments, discs or joints of the spine can cause back pain. Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy and don't twist or bend at the waist when lifting.

Posture

It is extremely important to learn and maintain good posture. When viewed from the side an imaginary straight line should pass through the ears, shoulders, hips, and the knees and ankles if standing upright. The spine curves inward at the neck, slightly outward at the upper back, and inward at the lower back. These curves act like springs to help absorb shock (the discs between the vertebrae also help absorb shock). When the spine is not in proper alignment, the back muscles, ligaments, discs, and spinal joints are all under increased and uneven stress.

Strengthening Back Exercises:
Strengthening the muscles that support the spine (the core - muscles of the lower back, abs, hips and buttocks) with exercise helps prevent back strain that may come on slowly or suddenly. A strong core helps one maintain proper posture. The core muscles also stabilize the spine (keep the spine it in its natural alignment during physical activity). Strong leg muscles are also needed for the safer lifting of objects - basically squatting and standing back up without rounding your back.

Increasing muscle strength takes time. Increase exercises slowly to avoid injury.

Stretching Back Exercises:
Stretching the muscles is also important. Flexible muscles are less likely to tear during physical activity. Shortened muscles (particularly in lower back or the front of hips) can cause misalignment of the spine (poor posture). Stretching the back also increases mobility of the joints of the spine.

*Always consult with a doctor to make sure you don't have a condition that could make it unsafe to do certain exercises.

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise:

Low-impact aerobic exercises (one foot is always on the ground) such as brisk walking tones the core and legs with minimal stress to the spinal joints and discs. Weight-bearing aerobic exercise (legs support the weight of the body) such walking also improves bone density in the lower spine, hips and legs. Brisk walking also increases circulation and helps lubricate the spinal joints and the movement of fluid in and out of the disks.

Mattress

The best mattress for back pain is one that is firm enough to keep the spine in proper alignment but not so firm that it creates pressure points.

Body Weight

Lower back pain is more common in overweight people. Carrying extra weight causes more stress on the back, especially the lower back which supports most the weight of the torso. If excess weight is concentrated in the stomach area, even more stress in placed on the lower back. Weight can be controlled with a healthy diet and exercise. Though aerobic exercise is the most effective way to burn calories, strength exercises increase your muscle mass, which in turn increases your resting metabolism. Extra muscles burn extra calories even while sleeping.

Footwear

Footwear with the proper amount cushioning and support can go a long way in preventing back pain. The features to choose in shoes are dependent upon an individual's foot shape, gait style, and the chosen activity.

Keep Moving

Do not stay in one position for too long. Muscles become fatigued and strained when they are held in one position (contracted) too long. Changing positions will shift the workload to different muscles.

Don't Overdo It

Do not overdo activities you are not accustomed to (including exercises)