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The 12 Bad Habits That are Killing Your Back
Back pain is perhaps the number one complaint that sends people to see doctors, go to the emergency room, and visit chiropractors. Back pain is the 5th most common reason people are admitted to the hospital and the 3rd most common reason for surgery! Estimates say that 56 percent of the population suffers from lower back pain and that it disrupts their daily lives, including their work, sleep, and sex lives.
Although there are many causes of back pain, there are also just as many non-invasion solutions for relieving your pain. Back pain rarely occurs because of one singular event, but is usually brought on by a combination of things– seemingly insignificant everyday habits that literally kill your back over time.
Keep reading and see if you are guilty of any of these habits so that you can make changes for the better. The last thing anyone wants or needs is a pain in the back!
1. You Watch Way Too Much TV
Parking your butt in your favorite easy chair or the sofa to watch those Netflix marathons does not make your back a happy camper. One study out of Norway showed that when teenagers spent more than 15 hours a week in front of the tube, they were 3 times more likely to have lower back pain than teenagers who were more active.
Limit the amount of time you spend watching television and take breaks to move around during commercials. Walking at least one mile each day can cut back pain in half and stretch out the spine naturally.
2. You Hate Yoga
Perhaps you don’t hate it, but you certainly don’t practice it. Some people don’t think of yoga as “real” exercise, but when you are talking about your back, yoga is perhaps the best type of exercise. Researchers from the University of Washington state that yoga can ease lower back pain much faster than regular types of exercise.
In one study, slightly more than 100 subjects were randomly assigned to three groups. Group 1 took weekly yoga classes and practiced while they were at home. Group 2 did weekly exercises that were developed by a physical therapist and also practiced at home. Group 3 received a self-help book about back care. After a three month period, the group that did yoga had much better back related function when compared to the other two groups.
3. Your Drive to Work is a Long One
Hunched over the steering wheel of a car can tighten the chest muscles and make your shoulders become more rounded. This posture makes you look fatter, really zaps energy, and causes neck and back pain. Try to sit at a 90 degree angle, or as close to 90 degrees as possible. Also, sit closer to the steering wheel so that you don’t have to stretch out your arms so much.
4. You Live in High Heels
Or you live in flip flops. Both make the feet unstable, which affect your back. High heels will force you to arch your back, which makes the muscles that control your spine work that much harder. Flip flops and backless sandals cause your feet to move from side to side. This makes you distribute your body weight much more unevenly and can cause back pain.
This doesn’t mean you can’t wear cute shoes, it just means you shouldn’t walk in them for long periods of time. Wear comfortable tennis shoes or flats while you are commuting or grocery shopping and save your flip flops for the beach and those killer heels for special occasions.
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5. You Live at Your Desk
Sitting puts as much as 40 percent more pressure on your spine than standing does. However, when you have a ton of work to do, the last thing you are thinking about is your posture. Although you know you should get up and do regular stretching, when you are up against a deadline, well, it just isn’t going to happen. Simply leaning back at a 135 degree angle can help to reduce the compression of the spine. So try leaning back slightly in your chair when you can, such as when someone stops by your office to chat or when you are on the phone.
Speaking of the phone, talking on it might be a good chance to stand up and pace. Your head should be straight forward when you look at your computer screen, not bent up or down. Your chair should support your lower back. Try to get up at least every 30 minutes and walk for a few minutes. If you don’t have a reason to get up, make one up!
6. Your Purse Weighs More Than Your Cat
Believe it or not, that huge designer handbag can cause more back damage than many sports injuries. Keeping that heavy bag on your shoulder causes your body to become off balance by raising the shoulder with the heavy bag, which will throw your spin out of whack. Be certain that you bag weighs no more than 10 pounds, maximum. Try to alternate shoulders as you walk or split your things into two bags.
7. You Don’t Know How to Chill
It’s true, chronic stress can be a direct link to back pain. When you feel as if you are constantly under the begun, your entire body tenses up, including your neck, shoulders, and back. Our bodies are designed to clench and then relax, but when we are constantly under stress, we never relax those muscles and they pull your back out of whack, causing pain.
Sometimes just realizing that you are under stress can cause you to relax. Listening to music has been shown in studies to both relieve stress and ease back pain. You should find ways to reduce your stress and learn to relax those muscles if you ever want to be free of back pain.
8. You Love Junk Food
Or fast food, or sugar or processed foods. Although research has shown again and again that healthy eating habits are good for the body (including your back) people choose again and again to eat crap. Researchers in Finland found that subjects how suffered from back pain were much more likely to have clogged arteries to the spine than those in the healthy control group. Blood circulation brings nutrients to the spine and removes waste tissue. If this does not happen, inflammation can occur and inflammation means pain. Wean yourself off of the junk foods and eat more anti-inflammatory foods and herbs.
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9. You Love Your Crunches
Don’t get us wrong, exercise is good for you, but sit-ups and crunches do more harm than good when it comes to your back. Although it is true that a strong core protects your back, crunches don’t actually work the abdominals that will help to stabilize your back. You don’t have to stop doing crunches altogether, but do them slowly and be sure you are doing them properly. Work on exercises that will support your back and give you overall stronger core muscles.
10. Your Bed is an Antique
When we are talking about your bed, we really mean your mattress. If you have no idea how old your mattress is, it’s probably time to replace it. A good mattress will last 10 to 15 years. However, if your back is hurts every morning or feels as if it’s out of place, or if you can’t seem to get comfortable, then you need a new mattress.
If you do decide to try a new mattress, pretend you are Goldilocks. Don’t pick a mattress that is too hard or too soft. Although many people think that a really firm mattress will help their back, that is not always true. A really hard mattress can increase pressure on your back and make the pain even worse.
11. You Hate to Workout
Moving your body will actually alleviate many aches and pains and that includes back pain. Studies say that 40 percent of people will be less active after they have a bout with back pain, which can actually make things even worse. When you first experience back pain, most people need a short time to rest, but then they need to get moving. In fact, just frequent walking will ease back stiffness and loosen up the joints.
12. You Hold a Grudge Forever
It might not seem as if this has anything to do with your back, but it really does. Duke University Medical Center conducted a study and found that 58 subjects who had chronic lower back pain experienced much less anger, depression, resentment, and back aches once they began practicing forgiveness.
It seems our emotions and thoughts can directly influence the strength of our pain signals. Remember, forgiveness does not mean that you forget. But by replacing feelings of anger and resentment with understanding towards someone, you aren’t giving them anything per se, but you will be giving yourself some terrific pain relief.