Back pain: an epidemic, that seems to be spreading like wildfire. It’s not contagious, in the traditional sense, but at this point it has been said that 85 percent of all people will suffer moderate to severe back pain at some point in life. It is one of the biggest causes of disability — yet it is mostly preventable.  

In the article “How Back Pain Took Over the World,” Olga Kahzan writes, “The things that make us low-level miserable are now more likely to be simple aches and pains, rather than frightening, communicable diseases like diarrhea. That’s encouraging, but it’s still a little sad. People all over the world increasingly live long, great lives, only to spend their golden years slathered in Icy Hot.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. While many people will look for a pill, surgery or even a back brace to fix their symptoms, your best bet is to address the cause. Take preventative action today, and live your latter years without so much Icy Hot. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Get more exercise: If your back hurts, you may think the best way to get relief is to rest and limit exercise. Perhaps spend some time on the couch. A day or two of rest may help, but more than that may not alleviate the pain. Regular physical activity can help ease inflammation and muscle tension.
  2. Watch your weight: Carrying extra pounds, especially in your midsection, can make back pain worse by shifting your center of gravity and putting strain on your lower back. Staying within ten pounds of your ideal weight can help control back pain.
  3. Posture. Posture. Posture: Think about having a long spine, as if someone were pulling you up from the crown of your head. Keep your shoulders in line over your hips and relax. Keep your chest and your ribs in check (don’t puff them out). Don’t slump at your desk or slouch while you stand. In addition, try not to sit or stand in one position for long periods of time. Move around!
  4. Be careful how you lift: Don’t bend over from the waist to lift heavy objects. Bend your knees and squat, pulling in your stomach muscles and holding the object close to your body as you stand up.
  5. Avoid high heels: They can shift your center of gravity and strain your lower back. Stick to a minimal shoe or a 1-inch heel. If you must go higher, bring along a pair of flat shoes and slip into them when you feel any pain.

Do you have back pain? If so, what might be the cause?  

Take steps today so that you can move more easily into your future.