Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in the United States, with about 16 million Americans suffering from pain that’s either continuous or recurrent. A lot of that pain is due to back strain that could have been prevented with just a little extra effort.
As a leading provider of holistic, patient-centered pain treatments in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, helps patients at Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation play a proactive role in preventing back pain and related symptoms. Here’s what you can do to help keep back pain and related problems at bay.
Four simple ways to keep your back strong
These four suggestions are easy to incorporate into your regular routine, so you can help your back stay healthy and strong without a major time investment.
1. Get up
The average American adult spends about 6.5 hours a day sitting. About a quarter of Americans sit for more than 8 hours each day, and office workers spend an alarming 15 hours sitting down.
You might think sitting is good, because this can allow your back to relax. However, the opposite is true. Studies show that too much sitting increases the risk of developing chronic back pain. And, unfortunately, people who have back pain wind up spending more time sitting, unwittingly making their symptoms worse.
Ideally, you should aim to break up long periods of sitting by getting up every 30 minutes and spending a few minutes stretching and walking around. And, when you do have to sit at your job, you should practice good workplace posture to avoid straining your lower back.
2. Try some stretching
Stretching can help keep your back flexible and improve circulation. And increased blood flow means your back can get plenty of nutrients to keep your bones, joints, and muscles strong and healthy.
There are literally hundreds of stretches to help strengthen the back. If you’re not sure where to start, an internet search could help. This simple exercise plan from the Mayo Clinic could help you strengthen your back and relieve back pain, and all it takes is 15 minutes a day.
Like any exercise program, before beginning a back-strengthening regimen, it’s important to talk with Dr. Berkower first to make sure your new routine won’t wind up causing more harm than good. That’s especially true if you have existing back pain, if you have a history of back problems, if you’re older, or if you haven’t exercised in a while.
3. Take a walk
Florida is the Sunshine State, and what better way to enjoy that beautiful sunshine than with a regular walking routine? Too hot? Walk indoors at a gym or mall.
Walking is important for back health, because it helps lubricate the joints in your back, legs, and other parts of your body. Plus, it helps strengthen the core muscles in your belly, waist, and back — muscles that help support your back and keep it flexible.
4. Change your habits
Sometimes, changing habits can do a world of good. Two examples are quitting smoking and losing extra weight.
Smoking doesn’t just harm your heart and lungs. It can damage your arteries and take a big toll on your circulation, preventing your muscles and other tissues from getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to maintain good health. These issues can also increase your risks of developing disc damage and osteoporosis, which can lead to back pain.
Losing weight can help your back stay strong and pain-free by allowing for an optimal distribution of weight on your back and legs. If you’re overweight — especially in the belly area — this can shift your center of gravity and put extra strain on your back. Dropping just a few pounds could be all it takes to help ward off back problems.
Listen to your back
These tips are all important, but perhaps one of the best tips is to pay attention to what your back is telling you. If you have back pain — especially pain that worsens or doesn’t go away in a day or so — it’s time to call our office.
You should also call if you have back pain that’s associated with numbness of muscle weakness in your legs or arms. Early treatment is the key to not only feeling better, but for preventing your problem from potentially getting a lot worse.
To learn more about back-strengthening activities or to find out about treatments that can relieve back pain, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.