Back pain is common. It is so common that most people struggle with it at some point, some for longer periods of time than others. Back pain may be the result of a sports injury, an accident or a congenital condition. Most such pain is entirely avoidable — it comes about through putting the body through stresses that it wasn’t designed for like sitting at a desk for long periods of time, sitting in a car over the length of a commute, standing on a sales floor over the course of a long shift or on the street maintaining law and order.
Unnatural stresses can cause muscle tension that leads to painful back conditions, but if you begin to take care of yourself, back pain management can be elementary. For the most part, it requires little more than a degree of regular attention paid to posture. While the correct posture can take some getting used to, it can soon turn second nature. Once this happens, back pain can easily become a thing of the past.
Understanding good posture
Posture is the way you carry your body through the day, and the way you arrange it at night. It’s the way you align your torso, neck, head, arms, back and legs as you sit, stand, bend, reach, pull or lie down. When done with sensitivity to the natural way in which the muscles and bones of the back, the neck and the rest of the upper body are designed to align, sitting, standing or lying down quickly turn pain-free. It’s important to learn to pay attention to these details even if you’ve never done it before.
Taking four simple steps for good posture
Imagine good posture: Imagine that you are a puppet and you have a cord running longitudinally through the center of your body. When it pulls you up, it pushes your chest up and out, makes you stand tall, and tightens your pelvis. This sort of soldier-like straightness is good posture that helps your back. If you find it hard to believe that posture of this kind could help, try standing this way when your back hurts particularly badly. You’ll find that it softens the pain. It helps because it spreads out the load that your body presents and puts less stress on your back. When you need to stand up, a soldier-like posture is a good one to keep in mind.
Squeeze your shoulder blades back: When you sit in a chair while at your desk, start with a good default position. Rest your hands on your thighs, let your shoulders rest the way they naturally do, and keep your chin level. Gently pull back your shoulders so that your shoulder blades come closer. Hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times. Then, sit straight, but in a relaxed way, with as little slouching as possible. Keep your head level. Getting a well-designed office chair and desk can greatly help you maintain the right posture.
Get the right shoes: Worn-out shoes can affect your posture by shifting your body’s weight unevenly and putting pressure on your spine. If your shoes aren’t completely comfortable, visit a dedicated running shoe store to be fitted by experts for good shoes.
Sleep correctly: Try sleeping on a rug for a few days to make sure that you align your body correctly. Once your body is reasonably well aligned, try the mattress that you’ve always been using. If it seems to shift your body in unhealthy ways, you need a firmer mattress.
Finally, get exercise
Exercise helps you strengthen your muscles and take stress away from your spine. Even if you do sit at a desk all day, strong musculature can take away most of the harmful effects of such a lifestyle.