You wake up in the morning and begin hurrying around the house to start your day. Cleaning up the living room, throwing together breakfast and making the bed with such purpose, you hardly notice how quickly you are moving. All of a sudden, you bend over to grab your briefcase and a sharp pain shoots through your back. Throughout the rest of the day, a nagging discomfort continues to distract you and keeps you from your full range of motion. If this sounds familiar, you are part of the estimated 80 percent of adults to experience back pain at some point in their lives.
So what can you do to keep your back happy and healthy? Follow our four tips for back bliss.
1. If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose
Bad news for you night owls: getting inadequate sleep is detrimental to many areas of life, and especially to back health. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body becomes fatigued and you are likely to feel aches and pains much more acutely than after a good night’s sleep. Your body also repairs itself during the sleep cycle, so less sleep equals more pain. To avoid back pain, try sleeping in different positions and avoid sleeping on your stomach as it strains the muscles in the spine.
2. Get Moving
One of the biggest contributors to back pain is extended periods of inactivity. If you work in an office, make a point to get up from your desk and walk around several times a day, in addition to substantial exercise elsewhere. Exercising will not only help you cut the extra pounds, but it will also keep you from getting stiff muscles and joints. Low impact exercises such as swimming, yoga and core work will strengthen your back without significant strain.
3. Stretch it Out
Don’t forget to stretch before and after exercising. Stretching loosens the muscles in your back and intensive stretching strengthens your muscles with little impact. This kind of exercise also makes you more flexible and less affected by strenuous movements.
4. Posture Perfect
Your mother was right when she told you to sit up straight. Most people have poor posture and don’t realize it. Added awareness of your posture can make a huge difference in your back health and could potentially protect you from a back injury down the road. Practice good posture while sitting, and consider getting a chair with firm lumbar support, especially if you have a job requiring you to sit at a desk for long periods of time.