Over the course of a lifetime, eighty percent of us will suffer from back pain. And although we often treat it like something random and unexpected, the reality is that back pain usually comes from a lifestyle choice. Physical pain is our body’s way of telling us that something is wrong, with the aim being for us to change our behavior so that the pain will go away. And back pain is no different: it is not an illness, it is a symptom! Which means most of us can avoid it if we work hard.
But unfortunately, back pain is not a symptom of just one condition. Many different conditions can cause back pain, so if we wish to avoid it we must work hard to avoid all of these conditions. Regardless of whether you have never experienced back pain, or you have lived through it and do not want to endure it again, following these steps is your best bet.
For starters, you may be pleased to know that it is actually people aged 35-55 who suffer the most frequent and worst back pains. This is because people in this age group are less physically active and healthy than younger people, and they spend more time indoors leaning over a desk than older people. So our very first step is to avoid spending so much time cooped up, perfectly still. If you are at work you need to get up, stretch, fidget, anything you can do to avoid sitting in the same position hour after hour, day after day.
Staying fit and healthy is an important step to preventing back pain. The reason for this is twofold. Being a healthy weight means that you are not putting excess pressure through your spine, meaning it is less likely to be injured. Not being underweight means your body is nourished and healthy and able to rebuild itself.
But secondly, having strong back muscles means that our spine and our ligaments are protected from injury. Much like guide lines can support and protect telephone poles and trees in high winds, our muscles protect and support our spines. If we make sure to lift weights and build our back muscles, we are creating a safety net so that the most fragile parts of our spine are protected.
Although osteoporosis does not cause back pain, avoiding osteoporosis is crucial when it comes to avoiding back injuries. To avoid osteoporosis, you must eat well and exercise. Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D, calcium, glucosamine, vitamin C, and iron. These nutrients will help maintain your bone density. And again, weight lifting is useful. When we lift weights we compress our bones, increasing their density, making it harder to develop osteoporosis.
Inflammatory conditions like arthritis can cause extremely bad back pains. Although most inflammatory conditions are things we develop due to a combination of genetics, age, and choices we made long ago, there are ways of lessening the symptoms. For starters, diet plays a huge part in how much inflammation we suffer. By avoiding alcohol, simple sugars, and allergenic foods, we decrease the overall amount of inflammation in our bodies, and with it the amount of pain it causes. And by eating plenty of antioxidants we fight inflammation, giving our bodies a bit of a break and easing pain. Finally, depending too much on artificial support is not good for your back. We would never dream of spending all day with our arm in a cast for no reason, and yet we do a similar thing to our backs all the time. We get hard mattresses, ergonomic office chairs, posture correcting devices and corsets, all with the aim being to force our bodies to adopt a better position and to take some weight off our backs. But the more we do this, the less we use our back muscles, the more we rely on artificial support. A better alternative is to work on strengthening our back muscles instead, so that our backs can support themselves.