Protect your back from pain and disability

At some point in their lives, about 75% to 85% of people will experience back pain. There are several risk factors related to an increased prevalence of this type of pain, beginning with genetic factors that may influence intervertebral disc wear, age, being over 50 years old, female, psychosocial factors such as depression and anxiety, being overweight, smoking, professional activity requiring physical effort and a sedentary life.

Pain can be associated with specific and well-identified diseases, such as fractures, arthrosis, tumours and infections, among others. In these cases, treatment depends on the cause. However, more often, the origin of the pain is multifactorial and, in these cases, there is no miracle formula for treatment.

We do know that prolonged duration of pain is a poor prognosis. The approach to this problem should always be carried out in a multidisciplinary way, with physical, psychological and social rehabilitation. As with so many other diseases, prevention remains the best treatment, especially as far as physical issues are concerned.

How to prevent back pain
It is important to control weight, maintain muscle mass (which is responsible for supporting the spinal column), correct posture – errors lead to contractures and muscle decompensation – and sleep. Sleep is the most important instrument for the recovery of muscles.

Practice regular physical activity
Physical exercise combats muscle atrophy and strengthens the most important muscle groups that support the spine.

Be extra careful when lifting heavy objects
When picking up a heavy object, such as a box or bag with groceries, do so with the help of your thighs and legs and not with the exclusive effort of your back. With your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, as you stand up, bring the object up close to your body. When carrying a heavy weight, don’t use only your hands – carry it close to your centre of gravity, your body.

Adopt a correct posture while sitting
It all begins with the choice of your chair. Look for one that has lumbar support. Do not slide down the chair and, whenever possible, stand up and stretch your legs and torso.

Don’t have your neck or body in a constantly bent position
If you work at a desk, place your computer at a height that you do not need to bend your neck. It doesn’t have to be at head level, just slightly below so your eyes can see what you write without bending over. And keep your forearms or elbows supported at all times.

Keep your weight under control
Avoid excess fatty tissue in the region of your belly causing your weight to shift forward, forcing extra work on the back muscles, leading to exhaustion. Keep to a healthy diet and regular controlled physical activity (at least twice a week).

Do not smoke
Another scientific certainty regarding tobacco: smokers have a higher prevalence of low back pain.

Another certainty: sleep is the most important muscle repair mechanism. Back pain is very much associated with situations that prevent you from having a prolonged and effective night’s sleep.

Article submitted by the HPA Group