If you want to prevent lower back pain, add these 4 habits to your everyday life:
1. Practice good posture
Poor posture is a common cause of lower back pain. To keep pressure off the discs in your lower back and reduce the chance of strain, try these simple tips for staying upright:
- Use a lumbar roll when you sit. Get a lumbar roll pillow—or make one yourself—and put it behind the small of your back whenever you sit in the car, at your desk, or on the couch. This item can help keep your lower back from rounding.
- Make your workstation ergonomic. Keep your body from slumping or hunching forward while you work at a desk. Raise your computer monitor’s height so your eyes naturally hit the top-half of the screen. Position your keyboard and mouse so that when you use them your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Sit in a chair with an adjustable height and good backrest and headrest.
- Take breaks often. Reduce the duration of time you put pressure on your back. Set timers on your phone to remind you to get up and walk around. While you walk, keep your shoulders aligned with the rest of your body, your head up, and your eyes straight ahead.
These habits help to maintain good posture and protect your lower back.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise can strengthen muscles and increase flexibility, helping to support the spine and lessen the chance of injury. Here are a few options:
- Core exercises. The muscles around your lower back, abdomen, hip, and pelvis support your spine. But they don’t get strengthened much through everyday movements. Incorporate exercises into your routine that engage them specifically.
- Water therapy exercise. Exercising in the water is a safe, versatile way to build strength and keep your back healthy. It also provides a low-impact aerobic workout.
- Yoga. Yoga can gently stretch and strengthen lower back muscles and improve your posture and balance.
You may want to consult a health care provider before beginning a new workout regimen. While exercise can be a little uncomfortable, don’t push through a workout if your back or other joints are in pain.
3. Watch your weight
The more extra weight you carry, the more pressure is placed on your lower back, increasing the risk for muscle strain and disc herniation. If you want to protect your back by losing weight, here are some ideas:
- Start with exercise. Determine a healthy weight-loss goal and draw up a workout plan that includes low-impact aerobic exercises. A health care provider can help you do this.
- Eat nutritiously. Read the recommended guidelines for a healthy diet and good nutrition so you can lose weight safely. Consider moving towards a plant-based, whole foods diet so you can lose weight without counting calories or making drastic cuts to your portion sizes.
- Stay hydrated. Cut back on soda and alcohol consumption, and drink more water instead. This helps to cut calories, plus your back needs hydration to stay healthy.
Maintaining a healthy weight can make a noticeable difference in the health of your lower back.
4. Reduce emotional stress
When experiencing high emotional stress, many people tend to exercise less, eat and sleep poorly, and sit with poor posture. These habits leave your back susceptible to injury. Try these suggestions for relieving stress:
- Find assistance through counseling or therapy. A trained mental health counselor or psychologist can teach you how to cope with your stress. If you prefer, check out cognitive behavioral therapy programs online to learn strategies for minimizing stress.
- Meditate. This practice only takes a few minutes and a quiet room, and it can help you to slip into a peaceful state of mind. Download a free meditation app on your smartphone or tablet if you need help getting started.
- Take up a hobby. Playing an instrument, baking, gardening, creating art—even just coloring in a coloring book—help to take your mind off your worries.
Practicing these tips doesn’t guarantee a life free from lower back pain, but they are trusted preventative measures that can lower your chances of injury.