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Back Pain can be prevented with exercise and lifestyle changes

Many cases of back pain can be prevented with exercise and lifestyle changes recommended by physical therapists

As we explained last time, back pain is an issue that can affect just about anyone, and there's a strong change that you personally will experience it at least once in your life. The cause of back pain is different in each individual and is usually due to several factors, including the strength of muscles in and around the back, physical activity level and daily lifestyle habits. For this very reason, it's often possible to prevent back pain from developing or returning just by making some important changes in your daily life.

One of the biggest physical factors that can increase the chances of back pain from occurring is occupation. Most employed individuals spend at least 40 hours performing their job each week, so the nature of the work done can have a major impact the spine and possibly lead to problems. Regardless of what the job entails, the back can be negatively affected, and this is part of the reason that back pain is the most common work-related disability in people under the age of 45.

Jobs with lots of sitting, standing or twisting motions all have a high rate of back pain

While there is some amount of risk for back pain in most professions, certain occupations have a much higher risk than others. In particular, jobs that involve long periods of time spent sitting, standing or twisting and bending the spine have some of the highest risk of all.

Working a desk job, although it may sound rather harmless, is actually one of the most common causes of back pain. This is typically due to too many hours sitting at a desk, which can be made worse by bad posture and poor workstation ergonomics. About 38% of office workers will experience back pain each year, but they are not the only profession at risk. Other high-risk occupations for back pain include:

  • Construction workers/warehouse workers
  • Nurses/nursing home workers
  • Dentists/surgeons
  • Landscapers/gardeners
  • Store checkout personnel

Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent back pain

Most people would not be compelled to change their jobs just to reduce their risk for back pain-and we wouldn't advise doing so-but there are several steps you can still take to lower your risk, both at your job and elsewhere.

One tried and true method for preventing back pain is exercise. In one powerful review published last year, a team of researchers analyzed 23 studies to determine which treatments were most effective for preventing back pain. They found that exercise was the most beneficial of all treatments evaluated, which also included back belts and shoe inserts. When combined with education, exercise was actually capable of reducing the risk for back pain by 45%. Another study found that exercise can also be helpful for patients recovering from back pain and preventing it from returning.

Many types of exercise can be helpful for preventing back pain, but some are recommended over others. Your body's core, which includes muscles of the abdominals, lower back and pelvic floor, provides crucial support for the spine. Exercises that strengthen these core muscles are therefore strongly encouraged to reduce the risk for back pain.

In addition, cardiovascular exercise like jogging and brisk walking can help the supporting structures of the spine. Exercise gently loads and works muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones in the lower back, which makes it healthier and less likely to be affected by back pain. Low-impact activities like swimming or biking may be preferable since they put even less strain on the spine.

Other ways to prevent back pain and how physical therapy can help

Aside from exercise, there are several other strategies that you can incorporate into your life to further reduce your risk for developing back pain. These include the following:

Correct your posture: since improper posture may play a role in back pain, correcting it is key; this includes making changes to your workstation and being conscious of your posture during your daily activities that move your back to its limits of mobility

Make sure you are always lifting properly: many people excessively stress their backs when they don't use the right lifting techniques, but learning how to lift safely is simple

Improve your overall health: the better your overall health, the lower your risk for back pain, so taking steps to get healthier and more fit will be beneficial two-fold

Learn your sport-specific risk and how to reduce it: if you play certain sports, you that certain movements may increase your chances of experiencing back pain; understanding these risky movements and addressing them will lower your risk

As you can see, there are a number of ways that you can take control of your situation and reduce your risk for back pain. To take it a step further, though, you may want to consider seeing a physical therapist. Physical therapists are experts at treating and preventing just about every movement-related issue, and they see patients with back pain all the time. Physical therapy treatment programs focus on all the elements described above, and will include strategies to correct your posture at work and in daily life, improve techniques for lifting and other movements throughout the day and boost your overall health. Together, these benefits will help you stop back pain in its tracks and save you from additional problems down the road.

So if you're concerned with your risk for back pain, now is the time to contact us and find out how we can help you.

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