You do the worst things for your back every day, and anyone with back problems knows what activities and habits are hazardous.
Back pain is the third most common reason for surgery and the fifth most common reason for being hospitalized.
Between 80% to 90% of people will suffer 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 the Worst Things for your Back Fix :
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 tested a group of people with low back pain to see what kind of bed helped with their back pain (Kovacs 2003). They found out that 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.
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, 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 time on your feet, and your back feels stiff from it, 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 decreases back pain (Shabat 2005).
Also, if you end up standing at work or doing something that involves a lot of standing, ensure 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.
4. Doing this in the Gym Will Increase Your Risk of Back Pain
Research in August 2013 from the United Kingdom examined what 4610 people were doing in the gym.
They found that people who focused on free weights, calisthenics, or exercise classes had less risk of back pain than those who stretched and used weighted machines (Sandler 2013).
Take home message: spend more time doing free weight work and moving the body than sitting and stretching.
The Last Word
There you go. Every day, we all do a few things that affect our backs.
There you go.
Give that a go, and let me know how it goes.
Talk to you soon.
Rick Kaselj, MS
Jacobson BH, Boolani A, Smith DB. (2009). Changes in back pain, sleep quality and perceived stress after introducing 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 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, 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.