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How to Prevent Lower Back Pain Before it Happens

by Patty Weasler, RN August 13, 2019 0 Comments

Lower back with pain cream gel

The onset of lower back pain can be persistent and lead to other painful complications. Learning how to prevent lower back pain will keep your back healthy and strong. You may not realize it, but there are a lot of lifestyle changes you can easily make to reduce your risk of developing low back pain all together. Keep reading to learn about the simple ways you can keep your back healthy and pain-free.

13 Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain

1. Stretch and Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise increases strength and flexibility. Focus on strengthening your core muscles, which include your abdominal, side, back, and pelvic muscles. Altogether, these support the lower back and help prevent back injury. Include exercises like walking or biking to improve your overall cardiovascular health. Exercise will also improve the blood flow to your back, this gives your tissues the oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

2. Choose the Right Sleeping Position

You may not know it, but the way you sleep may be causing your lower back pain or making existing pain worse. To avoid lower back pain caused when sleeping, the key is to keep your spine and body in alignment to prevent additional strain and pressure. Whether you sleep on your back, side or stomach there are ways to position yourself and prevent lower back pain throughout the night.

  • Back Sleeper

    If you find sleeping on your back is the best position for you, elevate your legs with a pillow. The pillow will relieve pressure and reduce lower back pain.

  • Side Sleeper

    If sleeping on your side is your preference, place a pillow in between your legs to keep your hips in alignment.

  • Stomach Sleeper

    Rarely sleeping on your stomach will be the best position for lower back pain, but if it is for you, try placing a pillow under your lower stomach and remove the pillow from under your head.

    Learn the best sleeping positions to prevent lower back pain and explore more tips to help you sleep comfortably in our guide below.

3. Support your Back When Seated

A common cause of lower back pain is sitting in the wrong position. Slouching or hunching over can cause pressure on the muscles, joints, and discs in the back. This, in turn, causes pain and poor posture.

Additionally, hard chairs put pressure on your coccyx, spine, and hips. Try using an ergonomic chair to help properly position your spine or a seat cushion to relieve pressure off your tailbone and redistribute your weight. These seat cushions can reduce pain in your lumbar spine and are portable and inexpensive; making them an easy addition to help you develop good posture. Over time you may even learn to maintain proper posture without the cushion.

4. Avoid Sitting for Long Periods

Prolonged sitting can do a lot of harm. The longer you sit, the more pressure you put on your spine. If you sit at a desk for work, try to take a 15-minute standing break once every hour.  Along with upgrading your desk chair or adding a seat cushion chair, check out our guide below to learn the main causes of lower back pain when sitting and more tips to prevent it.

5. Correct Poor Posture

Our lifestyles have changed over the years. Many people now sit at a desk or are sedentary most of their day. Sitting for long periods with poor posture can do serious harm to your low back. It can place additional pressure on your back and can cause some back conditions to worsen.

When you are sitting or walking, keep your back in a neutral position with your shoulders back and head in midline. Using a posture corrector will both help keep your shoulders and back in proper alignment and keep you aware of your posture.

If you sit most of the day, try to walk around at least once an hour to give yourself a break.

6. Avoid Unsafe Stretches and Exercises

Not all stretches and exercises are good for the lower back, here are some that you should avoid:

  • Bending over and touching your toes.
  • Windmill stretches, which is when you bend over and touching toes with the right hand to left foot and vice versa.
  • Full sit-ups--try partial crunches.
  • Leg lifts--these should be avoided if you have a very weak core, as people will compensate with their back muscles

For a complete list of stretches and exercises you should avoid with lower back pain, check out our article below.

7. Lift Heavy Objects with Proper Form

Lifting heavy objects incorrectly can cause some serious damage to your lower back. Here is a brief explanation on how to correctly lift a heavy object:

  • Bend down with your hips, not your back.
  • Keep your chest upward and do not let the weight of the object pull you down.
  • Keep the object close to your body.

Using this technique forces your hips and legs to do the heavy lifting while your back and core muscles stabilize your body. Always avoid twisting your back and lifting without knees bent. If you don’t bend your knees you are putting the majority of the work on your lower back. Twisting your body while lifting can also cause injuries. Keep your shoulders forward during a lift and if you need to turn your body do so with your legs and hips followed by your upper body.

8. Learn How to Cough and Sneeze Without Pain

Something as simple as coughing or sneezing can cause lower back pain. Check out this video to learn how coughing and sneezing can cause back pain and what you can do to prevent injuring your lower back.

9. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying extra weight causes increased pressure on your lower back. Develop a plan that involves regular exercise and a balanced diet. This will keep your lower back and your whole body healthy. Diets that reduce inflammation can help decrease back pain and overall body inflammation. 

10. Stay Hydrated - Drink Plenty of Water

Your body contains up to 60% water. Dehydration can cause multiple health problems and affect your body in places you wouldn’t even have imagined. The discs in between your vertebrae absorb the shock of movement and walking. They protect your lower spine from injury and the wear and tear of daily life. These discs contain water and if they are not properly hydrated it can cause lower back pain. 

11. Avoid Sudden or Repetitive Movements

Quick jerks, twists or sudden movements can easily over exert your back muscles causing ligaments to strain or tear. Try to be intentional with your movements, move with proper form and maintain good posture. Additionally, if you work at a desk or frequently perform movements that place your back out of alignment you are increasing your risk of back pain. Try to change up your movements by taking breaks from desk work or learning new ways to perform the tasks that cause pain.

12. Quit Smoking

Smoking is associated with many conditions and diseases. One of these is lower back pain. Smoking with high blood pressure and high cholesterol has been shown to be connected with lumbar spondylosis. Just another reason to quit!

13. Get Professional Help

Low back pain can be caused by many different things. If you don’t find pain relief after a couple of weeks or is associated with leg weakness, tingling, poor bowel and bladder control you should seek medical advice from your doctor. A doctor, physical therapist or even chiropractor will be able to guide you through specific treatments tailored to your condition.

Seeking Professional Help to Prevent Lower Back Pain

If you’ve suffered from lower back pain you know how it can impact your everyday life. Learning how to prevent back pain with exercises, stretches, and good body mechanics will keep your back healthy and doing everything you love. Review our suggestions alongside your physical therapist to make sure you’re on the right track to keeping lower back pain away. If your pain continues or worsens, seek medical attention.

Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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