12 Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain
Taking steps to prevent lower back pain can help you avoid injuries that can take a long time to heal. Whether a chronic, dull ache or sharp sudden stab, lower back pain negatively affects quality of life.
Here are 12 things you can do that may help prevent lower back pain:
- Pay attention when engaging in activities that you don’t do every day, such as yard work or moving furniture. A sudden movement or doing too much when you’re not used to it can create problems for your back. Always stretch before a workout or exercise activities.
- Lift an object by standing as close to it as possible, spreading your feet to give you a wide base of support and lifting with your legs while tightening your stomach muscles. Don’t bend at the waist. If the object is too heavy for you, ask for help.
- Don’t stand for long periods. If you do stand, line up your ears, shoulders and hips, and hold in your stomach. It’s also helpful to rest one foot on a low stool and switch feet at least every 15 minutes.
- Don’t wear high heels. Wear cushioned soles for walking.
- Make sure your chair has a straight back with an adjustable seat and back, armrests and a swivel seat when you’re working – especially at a computer. Look for lower back support when selecting a chair. When you turn, move your entire body, don’t just twist at the waist.
- When sitting, place a stool under your feet so that your knees are higher than your hips.
- Place a small pillow or rolled up towel behind your lower back if you must sit or ride for long periods of time.
- Sleep on your side with knees bent. A pillow between your knees may make it more comfortable. If you prefer to sleep on your back, a small pillow under your lower back and under your knees may help prevent lower back pain.
- Lose excess weight because it puts a strain on joints and skeletal structure.
- Stay active. Find an exercise that you like, such as walking or swimming, and stick with it.
- Learn to relax. Find the best technique that works for you, such as taking a walk, learning yoga or getting a massage.
- Quit smoking. Smoking may increase the risk of osteoporosis, and it also reduces blood flow to the lower spine, contributing to disc degeneration.
When to See a Doctor
If something happens and you have pain that gets worse or doesn’t improve within two to three weeks, call your doctor. Other reasons to call your doctor include:
- Intense pain that makes it difficult to move
- Pain caused by an injury, such as a car accident
- Difficulty going to the bathroom
- Nausea, vomiting, fever, chills or weakness
- Numbness in your groin, rectum, leg or foot
- Pain that shoots down your leg below your knee
A doctor can help you manage the pain to get better or provide a treatment plan for ongoing pain.