The Key to Preventing Back Pain
October is Spinal Health Awareness month - but back health is something we should think about all year long! In this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion, Dahari Brooks, MD, talks about tips for keeping your back healthy and pain-free.
The key to having a healthy back is to live a healthy lifestyle in general. In addition to working on your overall wellness, there are 4 things to focus on to prevent back pain:
- Stretch to prepare your body before an activity. Whether it's training at the gym or raking leaves in the yard, having flexibility will help prevent muscle injury, aches and pains.
- Lift with the knees. Never bend at the waist to pick things up. Bending at the waist to lift increases the likelihood of acute back pain. If you do lift something from the waist, be sure to avoid twisting after you lift - this may also lead to injury and acute back pain.
- Exercise regularly to keep your muscles in shape and flexible. The added support and flexibility will help prevent injury.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the spinal discs in your back. The restricted blood flow speeds up the natural aging process, leading to faster deterioration in your spine and causing back pain.
Almost everyone will have an episode where they experience some back pain at some point in time. If the pain is located in just your back, you can take care of yourself at home by taking a day of bed rest, taking anti-inflammatory medications if you can tolerate them, icing your injury and then starting a gradual, slow stretching program.
If your pain doesn't go away or if you start to feel numbness, weakness or tingling in your leg, there may be something more serious causing your pain, such as a pinched or irritated nerve. If you experience these symptoms, reach out to your health care provider for help.