The third most common reason for surgery and the fifth most common reason for being hospitalized is back pain.
Between 80% to 90% of people will suffer from back pain to a level that forces them to change what they do during the day.
The stats are shocking.
Now, there are four things that we all do, that increase the risk of getting back pain and prolonging our back pain.
Here they are and how to fix them:
#1 – What Are You Sleeping On?
It is thought that a firm mattress is better for low back pain.
That is not the case. In Spain, they took a group of people with low back pain and tested to see what kind of bed helped with their back pain (Kovacs 2003). What they found out was after 90 days, the group that slept on medium-firm matters had the greatest decrease in back pain.
If you wake up stiff or if your back is sore, make sure you are sleeping on the right thing.
Plus, those whose mattresses are less than five years old report better sleep and less back pain (Jacobson 2009). (More reason to do something about your mattress.)
Now, let’s move on to what we all do next.
#2 – Men Should Do This Every Hour (& Women Every Two Hours)
If you move from sleeping to sitting to eat, then sitting in the car, then sitting at work, then this is important for you to know now.
The stiffness in your back will increase after sitting for one hour in men and two hours in women (Beach 2005). Stiffness in the lower back builds up with prolonged sitting. This affects how we move and can lead to back pain.
So men, get up every hour and move around. Plus you women, get up every two hours and move.
Let’s talk about when you are on your feet.
#3 – If You Stand Around or Walk Around, Do This For Your Back
When you spend any time on your feet and your back feels stiff from it, then you need to look at your shoes.
If you end up walking a lot at work or for fun, look at a good set of insoles in your shoes as this has been shown to decrease back pain (Shabat 2005).
Also, if you end up standing at work or you are doing something that involves a lot of standing, make sure you have a good pair of insoles in your shoes. Your back will thank you and so will your knees (Jefferson JR 2013).
Real simple, make sure you have a good set of insoles in your shoes. Shoe companies are cutting corners by putting cheap insoles in shoes.
Now let’s talk about what you are doing in the gym.
#4 – Doing this in the Gym Will Increase Your Risk of Back Pain
Research came out in August 2013 from the United Kingdom that looked at what 4610 people were doing in the gym.
They found that people who focused on free weights, calisthenics, or exercise classes had less of a risk of getting back pain than those who stretched and used weighted machines (Sandler 2013).
Take home message: spend more time doing free weight work right and moving the body compared to sitting and stretching.
The Last Word
There you go. There are a few things that we all do, every day that affects our back.
If you want your back to feel better so you can keep doing what you love, make sure to use a medium-firm mattress, change your mattress often, get up every hour (ladies every two hours), make sure you have some good insoles, and focus on moving and free weights in the gym.
There you go.
Give that a go and let me know how it goes.
Talk to you soon.
Rick Kaselj, MS
P.S. – If you are looking for a program to help overcome your back pain, I would suggest checking out Fix My Back Pain
Where To Get More Information
Jacobson BH, Boolani A, Smith DB. (2009). Changes in back pain, sleep quality and perceived stress after introduction of new bedding systems. J Chiropr Med. 2009 Mar;8(1):1-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcm.2008.09.002.
Jefferson JR. (2013). The Effect of Cushioning Insoles on Back and Lower Extremity Pain in an Industrial Setting. Workplace Health Saf. 2013 Oct 1;61(10):451-457. DOI: 10.3928/21650799-20130916-11. Epub 2013 Sep 23.
Kovacs FM, Abraira V, Peña A, Martín-Rodríguez JG, Sánchez-Vera M, Ferrer E, Ruano D, Guillén P, Gestoso M, Muriel A, Zamora J, Gil del Real MT, Mufraggi N. (2003). Effect of firmness of mattress on chronic non-specific low-back pain: randomised, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trial. Lancet. 2003 Nov 15;362(9396):1599-604.
Sandler RD, Sui X, Church TS, Fritz SL, Beattie PF, Blair SN. (2013). Are our flexibility and muscle-strengthening activities associated with a higher risk of developing low back pain? J Sci Med Sport.2013 Aug 8.PII: S1440-2440(13)00181-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.07.016. [Epub ahead of print]
Shabat S, Gefen T, Nyska M, Folman Y, Gepstein R. (2005). The effect of insoles on the incidence and severity of low back pain among workers whose job involves long-distance walking.Eur Spine J. 2005 Aug;14(6):546-50. Epub 2005 Jan 25.
About the Author
Rick Kaselj is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada that specializes in designing exercise programs for clients recovering from injuries and pain. Rick has trained thousands of clients and completed his Master’s of Science degree focusing on injury recovery.