No one wants to throw out their back, but no doubt there are days we take our spine for granted. Here are 7 ways you may be unknowingly damaging your back:
- You love your desk job.
It’s hard to be creative, effective over the phone, meet your deadline, or write a punchy proposal while worrying about your posture. But did you know that sitting places a whopping 40% more pressure on your back than standing? Poor posture means your muscles aren’t at work and your joints are cramped. Muscles at rest are weakening muscles, and inactive joints age quicker and lose lubrication.
Maintaining ideal posture throughout your day in the office may seem impossible. But the alternative, a thrown out back, or at the very least weak and flaccid muscles, is not an attractive option. Get up and stretch.
- You love your car.
Or, you love driving. Just like sitting cramped over your desk, slouching over the wheel is detrimental to back health. It can cause rounded shoulders and zap your energy. Think about your driving posture, and when possible, leave the car at home and walk.
- You don’t love the gym enough.
Studies have found that 40% of people quit going to the gym or getting regular, sufficient exercise after suffering from a back injury. Even back pain or discomfort was enough to keep people at home. This is likely to delay recovery or exacerbate the condition. If your back is causing you discomfort, don’t overdo at the gym, but don’t quit either.
- You rely too much on crunches.
While we want to build a healthy core to prevent back injury, crunches may not be the best route. Crunches do work muscles in the abdominal region but not particularly those that support the back. Instead, try a little yoga or Pilates. These movements improve circulation and lower stress which is just what your back needs. According to Orthopedic Associates, a hip surgeon based out of St. Louis, “Your hips bear your full body weight and have a wide range of motion.” So it’s not just a six-pack you should be shooting for. Focus on strengthening your hips, your core—the whole body. And not just one muscle group.
- You love your comfort foods.
Research shows that the eating habits that are good for your heart and weight are back-friendly too. Reports from Finland show those suffering from back pain to have clogged arteries to the spine. Proper circulation and healthy arteries bring nutrients to the spine and carry out the waste.
Say no to inflammatory foods, like coffee, sugar, white bread, and alcohol, or ingredients you can’t pronounce that end in iose, -iates, or -ites. Load up on heart-healthy treats, and change the way you make your favorite comfort foods.
- You hate winging it.
Is your purse or man satchel stuffed to the gills and bursting at the seams? That is a thrown-out back just waiting to happen. And unless you carry it all in a backpack, it’s creating serious imbalance as well. This will throw your spine off kilter and cause pain over time.
Try switching to a lighter bag. Ditch chains, studs, or leather. The American Chiropractic Association recommends your bag weigh no more that 10% of your body weight. (This is when your bag is fully loaded, mind you.)
- You hate throwing stuff away.
Are you using the right mattress for your body? An overly firm mattress can do more harm than good by increasing pressure to the spine and causing more pain. A medium-firm mattress is best for most people, and changing out your mattress could be just the thing you need for improved back health.
Are you using the same office chair that you had back from your days on campus? Maybe it’s time to trade that one out for a newer model, one that is still evenly padded, or try a walking desk.
If you’ve ever suffered from a back injury, you know a strong, supple back can make you feel like a millionaire! Keep the doctor away by doing what you can to keep your back in good health.