In a small study published in PM&R, the journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, researchers measured the discs of participants who were all sedentary and found that prolonged sitting of just four hours caused disc degeneration led. Numerous research shows that adults who sit long hours a day can counteract the risks by increasing their physical activity.
“Make a schedule where you focus on stretching and strengthening your core, a total of half an hour to an hour, six times a week,” says Okubadejo. “Instead of sitting for four hours at a time, cut that time in half. After two hours, get up for five minutes to stretch and then go back to what you did. “
2. The culprit: cigarette smoking
Another reason to give up the habit: Smoking restricts blood flow and causes the intervertebral discs to age prematurely. In fact, the main reason people who have had spinal fusion surgery – back surgery to join two or more vertebrae in the spine – don’t heal because they smoke, says Okubadejo. “For this reason, many insurance companies will not approve back operations on smokers.” That’s not all. Research suggests that smoking also affects the way the brain responds to back pain, making people less resilient. As a result, according to the results of a study in the journal Human Brain Mapping, smokers are three times more likely to develop chronic back pain than non-smokers. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), helped study participants manage the pain, but didn’t change the brain’s response to it.
3. The culprit: your mattress
This comfy mattress, which makes it seem like you’re floating on a giant marshmallow, may feel great when you slip into bed every night, but it doesn’t do your back a favors. “If you’re using a plush mattress or an old mattress, the body has a tendency to sink down, so the spine is less supported,” says Okubadejo. Novelty aside, the best type of mattress for back pain prevention is one that is at least medium firm. In a small study published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, participants were asked to keep a log of their back pain and quality of sleep for 28 consecutive days on mattresses that were at least five years old. They were then asked to sleep on a new, medium-firm mattress for another 28 days. Participants’ back pain steadily improved for each of the four weeks they slept on the new mattress.
4. The culprit: shoes
Anyone who wears high heels knows they can do a number on their back. It turns out that even sensible shoes can alter your gait and cause back pain if the soles are uneven, which happens if you’ve worn them for too long. “Think of your shoes as you think of your mattress,” says Chhatre. “We’re talking about the support you need when lying down; You also need support while standing up straight. “
Look for shoes with soles that offer medium strength and adequate arch support. When you wear soft-soled shoes, “you may feel like you’re absorbing some of the impact, but if they’re too soft, you create instability,” he says. “The nerve endings in your feet provide a sense of balance, but even your nerve endings will not know how to provide support in a shoe that is too soft.”
5. The culprit: stress
Stress wreaks havoc of all kinds in the body. No wonder it can also put strain on the muscles around your spine. “People usually have stress around their neck and shoulders,” notes Chhatre. But stress can also cause the pain to travel further down the back due to the inflammatory response it triggers.
For example, let’s say you have a ruptured disc but are not showing any symptoms. Chronic stress can be the “on” switch for the release of inflammatory molecules throughout the body. Inflammation, in turn, “opens the locks for pain,” says Chhatre.
Movement is particularly important to ward off such pain, says Okubadejo. “When you are stressed, you may not be as active. When you’re less active, you can be in pain, and when you are in pain, you are stressed. ”Which exercise is the best cure, he says, it’s about“ producing endorphins ”whether you’re going for a long walk , opt for a short run, or weight training. Stretching, he notes, can also help reduce the sharpness.