The older we get, the more painful our joints become, and the most common form of pain involves the back. All those years of bending wrong, lifting heavy, and spending countless hours on our feet really take a toll on our backs and so many of us live with lingering back pain.
Our back is comprised of our spine, which consists of 24 vertebrae and 23 disks that allow us to move and be stable. Nearly 80 percent of Americans suffer from back pain and many experts agree that poor posture is to blame. We’re sitting wrong, we slouch, and we sink into couches. All of this poor posture is contributing to our back pain, but there are things you can do to prevent it.
Below are four main causes of back pain along with solutions you can use to ease that annoying pain and have you moving once more.
Easy Tips to Improve Your Backpain
Improve How You Sit
If you’re like majority of the population, you probably spend countless hours sitting, whether to do work or even being retired. Unfortunately, how you sit plays a large role in the pain you feel, so it’s important to be mindful of your sitting and improve it as to prevent back pain.
The correct way to sit is by straightening yourself up. Your feet should be flat on the floor along with your mid-back and neck should be straight as well. Many of us curl our tailbones which makes us curl. Shoulders should be rolled back and not tensed up to your ears. For added support, tighten your core muscles.
If you find yourself slouching in front of a computer screen, ensure your screen is slightly below eye levels and that your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle.
Fix How You Stand
Believe it or not, many of us stand incorrectly. If you spend countless hours in a poor standing position, that can harm your back and therefore lead to pain. To stand correctly, ensure your weight is being distributed evenly on both feet and have your knees slightly flexed. Weight should also be put more so on your heels along with straightening your back similar to how you would if sitting.
Bend for Success
From time to time, you may find yourself bending over to tie your shoes, take out the garbage, or even picking up your grandchild. Bending puts a lot of strain on your back and if done incorrectly it can lead to pain.
As always, keep your feet flat when bending, which you can achieve by bending your hips slightly forward. Don’t lock your knees. Bend them as well to reach down and grasp the object and lift it up carefully.
Back pain can begin as early as the moment you wake up and that is due to the fact you probably didn’t sleep in a back-friendly position. In order to prevent morning back pain, focus on improving your sleeping posture.
Lay on your back with a pillow beneath your knees. Prop yourself up with your elbows and place your hands on your hips. Slowly roll back down one vertebra at a time while pushing your shoulders away from your hips, which lengthens the spine. Spending at least 15 minutes in this position will help reset your spine from the day’s events. This technique will help stretch the spine, but for optimal sleeping positions, to prevent back pain numerous studies recommend anything close to a fetal position, preferably with a pillow between the knees will work best.
Schedule Regular Swim Lessons
For those who suffer with joint pain, it can be tempting to move less to prevent more pain. However, when it comes to joint pain, it is “use it or lose it.” Reducing stress on the joints when exercising is key to prevent any extra damage, so swimming is one of the best ways to keep moving without doing any extra damage. Spending time in the pool can negate gravity which is the enemy of arthritis especially if it is in the back or the knees.
This ancient martial art could relieve pain in those who suffer with both inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis according to a review in Scientific Reports. Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise that involves slow, gentle movements which does not stress the joints.
Manage Your Weight
The more weight your joints need to carry, the harder they need to work. According to the Arthritis Foundation, each pound (lb) of body weight equates to 3 lb of added stress on the knees and 6 lb of added pressure on the hip joints. The added weight can also make arthritis worse by breaking down the cartilage between the joints. By losing weight, you may be able to reduce pain and stiffness on the joints.
Use Hot and Cold Therapy
Heating or cooling the affected joints can be an effective method for reducing arthritis pain. Heat therapy helps to boost circulation and can soothe stiff joints and aching muscles. Heat therapy can include a warm bath or shower, using an electric blanket or heating pad.
Cold therapy can restrict blood vessels which can slow circulation, reducing swelling and numbing pain. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
An ancient Chinese medical treatment involving thin needles that are inserted into the skin are known to help relieve pain associated with joint pain. By inserting the needles into specific parts of the body, energies can be rerouted, restoring balance in the body.
Get a Massage
According to the Arthritis Foundation, regularly massaging the muscles and joints can help with pain management associated with arthritis. Massage can help to lower the body production of the stress hormone cortisol and the neurotransmitter substance P, which has an association with pain.
A 2013 study investigate the effects of massage on people with RA in their upper limbs. After 4 weeks of following participants, it was found that those who had received regular moderate-pressure massages had less pain, better grip strength, and a greater range of motion in the affected limb than those who received light-pressure massage.
Cut Down on Sugar
Sugar leads to inflammation which will only add to pain in those who have arthritis. In a study of 217 people with rheumatoid arthritis, desserts and sugar-sweetened sodas were the two foods most often reported to make arthritis join symptoms worse. Try limiting sweets to an occasional treat to decrease the pain associated with arthritis.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Decreasing the amount of sugar in a diet is not the only change that can affect the pain in joints. One of the most effective ways to mitigate chronic joint pain is the adjust overall daily diet and include more foods and supplements that aid in reducing inflammation in the body. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids are great for combating inflammation in the joints. It can be found in foods such as fish, chia seeds, and walnuts. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also loaded with antioxidants that can counteract damage, protect healthy cells and are helpful in slowing the effects of aging.
By reducing blood flow and slowing down the body’s natural healing mechanisms, smoking can make it more difficult to recover from injuries and inflammation. Smoking can aggravate arthritis symptoms by triggering inflammatory processes that affect every cell in the body. Quitting smoking can have positive effect on overall health, especially joints. Talk to your doctor about the different ways you can successfully quit smoking.
Stress chemicals can affect the body’s immune system and can cause inflammation which will make arthritic pain flair up. The more stress, the more pain. There are several ways to reduce stress including meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies have found that the practice of mindfulness meditation is helpful for some people with joint pain. Inflammation, swelling, and pain has been shown to be reduced when stress is reduced.