Over 80 percent of all adults experience some form of low back pain[i]. It’s the number one reason why people miss work and it equally affects both men and women. Low back pain can be categorized as either acute, subacute or chronic depending on how long the pain lasts. Typically low back pain and subsequent issues are located in the lumbar region, the area of the back that supports most of our upper body weight. There are many factors that can contribute to lower back issues. Fortunately, there are some actions that can be taken to prevent or reduce most of these factors.
What Causes Lower Back Pain and Issues?
Before we can discuss ways to prevent lower back problems, we must first look at a long list of things that may cause these low back issues[ii]:
- Strains and Sprains
- Sleeping Wrong, Improper Support
- Poor Posture
- Overweight or Obese
- Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
- Ruptured or Herniated Discs
- Spinal Stenosis
- Scoliosis and Irregular Curvatures
- Kidney Stones
- Inflammatory Diseases
- Diseases and conditions like Osteoporosis or Fibromyalgia
Ways to Prevent Low Back Issues
In addition to the listed causes, there are many risk factors that also play a role in experiencing lower back issues like age, work, sleep, weight and fitness level. Preventing lower back issues starts with addressing some of these risk factors in addition to practicing better posture, improving your lifestyle and monitoring your overall health:
Stretching – always stretch before playing sports, working out or participating in some kind of vigorous activity.
Good Posture – start practicing good posture. This includes standing or sitting up straight, no slouching. Also, when standing, try to balance your body weight evenly on both feet.
Work – If you work at a desk, or spend lots of personal time at home on a desk, make sure the desk is at a comfortable height and that you have a chair with proper lumbar support. Additionally, make sure to take regular breaks to stand up, walk around and do some light stretching.
If your work includes intensive manual labor or lifting heavy objects, make sure to have proper back support and practice good form when lifting.
Sleeping – start by identifying your dominant sleep position: back, stomach or side. From there, get proper support for the position. This includes the right pillow firmness to support the head and neck, while also getting a pillow for your knees in the side position, pillow for low abdomen and pelvis region when sleeping on your stomach, and a pillow for the low back when sleeping on your back.
Also, choose a mattress that’s firm and durable enough to support your spinal alignment and evenly distribute your body weight. Replace any mattress if there’s sagging.
Diet and Exercise – obesity and being overweight add stress to your back, hip and knees. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help to reduce weight and alleviate low back issues.
Get Checked Out – if your lower back issues prevent you from performing daily activities, or the pain doesn’t subside and increases in severity then you should seek a consultation with your physician[iii]. There can be underlying factors causing this pain and a proper medical diagnosis may be needed to treat the low back issue.