If you have back pain, you’re far from alone. About 80% people experience lower back pain at some point in their life, according to the National Institutes of Health. No matter the cause, back pain can seriously impact your day, from affecting your ability to work to precluding you from your favorite recreational activities.
If you want to get rid of back pain without drugs or surgery, you may be able to do so by making a few lifestyle changes. In this blog, Kenneth Varley, MD, of Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, outlines five easy lifestyle changes you can make that may alleviate your back pain.
1. Lose extra weight
If you’re carrying around too much extra body weight, it may be contributing to your back pain. Extra weight can put extra stress on your bones and joints, including your spine, so shedding a few pounds is often a good first line of defense against persistent back pain.
2. Start and end your day with stretches
A few simple stretches at the start and end of your day could be the remedy you need. Research shows that stretching out the muscles in your back, buttocks, hips, and hamstrings can significantly decrease back pain.
3. Engage in low-impact exercise
A study of more than 30,000 adults found that exercising for just one hour or more each week can alleviate pain in the lower back, neck, and shoulders. You don’t want to exacerbate your back pain, though, so stick to low-impact exercise, such as walking, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, and yoga.
4. Get a new daily bag
Perhaps your work or school bag is the offender causing your back pain. If you carry a heavy bag every day, it may put stress on your spine, especially if you carry it in an awkward or inefficient position. If you can, opt for a two-strap backpack instead of a satchel, sling, or other single-strap bag. Make sure to wear the backpack with both straps, and don’t let it sag.
5. Pay attention to your posture
How’s your posture, really? Be honest with yourself. Do you slouch or sit in odd positions? Do you tend to scrunch up your shoulders with tension? Most people have poor posture, especially those who work sedentary desk jobs that require them to sit all day. You may be able to reduce your back pain simply by paying attention to your posture and correcting it when you slouch.