About 80% of or 4 in 5 adults will experience back pain at some point in their life. It is the leading cause of work-related disabilities and is a major contributor to absenteeism. It can be very painful and limiting. The Global Burden of Disease Study estimates that lower back pain is among the top 10 diseases in the world.
Back pain occurs for a variety of reasons. Pulls and sprains are a major cause of acute back pain. Sprains are caused by overstretching or tearing ligaments, strains are tears in tendons and muscles. Both can happen if you overstretch yourself and twist or lift something improperly or too heavily.
Disc problems are one of the most common mechanical causes of back pain. Facet joint disease accounts for over 50 percent of back pain symptoms. Cancer, osteoporosis, spinal injuries, and infections can also cause or worsen the situation.
There are many different risk factors. Our fitness, genetics, weight, and age all have an impact. Lower back pain peaks between the ages of 35 and 55 as our intervertebral discs lose fluid and flexibility as we age. Too much exercise after a lot of inactivity can leave you more prone to injury and pain. Rapid weight gain or obesity increases the risk. There are other occupational and lifestyle risk factors as well. If you have a problem, it is important to see a doctor / health professional for assistance. But as always in health terms, prevention is better than cure.
Here are five things you can do to keep your spine healthy.
1. Exercise regularly. Exercise is the key to health and especially a healthy spine. Exercise to make you strong and flexible is a powerful support for your health. Exercise also helps with rehabilitation and strengthening after injuries. Exercises that strengthen and stretch your back, abs, and hamstrings keep your muscles, ligaments, and joints healthy, reduce inflammation, and distribute nutrients to your intervertebral discs and soft tissues. Start slowly and seek advice from professionals if necessary. Walking is especially good for spinal health.
2. Check your posture. Your spine has natural curves. Your sitting, sleeping and walking posture should support this and enable good breathing and a relaxed body. Bad posture can damage your spinal nerves over time. Particular attention should be paid to sitting, as it increases the pressure in the intervertebral discs by 40 percent. Over time, this can cause them to create pain, inflammation, and / or compression
3. Meditate: Various studies show that meditation is an effective means of pain relief. As you meditate, your mind and body relax and tension is released, paving the way for less pain and better spine health and flexibility. Just a few minutes can make a difference.
4. Sleep well–When you lie down to sleep, use a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck and lower back. As a general rule, it’s good to avoid sleeping on your stomach or curling up too much in a fetal position, as these positions can make your back more prone to injury and pain.
5. Eat well. Eat natural foods – vegetables, fruits, meats, whole grains, and legumes that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, as well as calcium and other nutrients and vitamins
There are many healing modalities available to support good spinal health. Heat therapy, yoga therapy, osteopathy, massage, acupuncture and much more help. Wearing good shoes is also important. Don’t take a healthy spine for granted. Take care of oneself. If the pain starts, addressing it early on for the best results should be addressed.