Almost everyone has suffered from back pain at some time or another. There can be different explanations for back pain, and your lifestyle also plays a big role. We’ll tell you which tricks you can use to prevent back pain in everyday life and which habits you might want to rethink.
How does your lifestyle affect your back?
There’s hardly a person who hasn’t felt aches and pains in their back or their neck from time to time. According to experts, one in four Germans visits a doctor at least once a year because of chronic back pain1.
Results of a recent study2 show that the pandemic and working from home, unsurprisingly, have made the problem even worse. Many people are moving less than usual since there are no more work commutes and gyms are closed. As a result, many people are feeling the lack of physical balance to their predominantly sedentary lifestyle, sometimes resulting in lower back pain.
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What’s more, the typical home office setup doesn’t always provide an optimal, back-friendly sitting position. You can find ways to optimize your home office, though.
In addition to exercising and sitting properly, your other everyday activities are also important. How do you look at your smartphone? Do you always carry your bag on the same side? Do you hunch your lower back when you’re cleaning your apartment or wash dishes? Do you slump on the sofa to watch TV?
Remember, both your daily routine and your habits play an important role when it comes to back pain. Why? Because things you do on a daily basis, most of the time unconsciously, have the biggest impact on you, since your body is constantly subjected to them. Negative outcomes are incorrect and lopsided strain. Under certain circumstances, this can lead to muscular imbalances.
Muscular imbalances refer to an uneven relationship between the agonist, or the muscle that performs a movement, and the antagonist, or the muscle responsible for the opposite movement. This imbalance in your muscles can negatively affect your back and worsen your posture.
But don’t worry: you can actively do something about it and change your habits!
7 tips for preventing back pain in everyday life
It’s no secret that spinal conditioning and exercises for the lower back can help alleviate lower back pain and help prevent health problems. But in addition to targeted back training, even small changes in everyday life can help to prevent certain complaints. We’ve put together 7 tips that you can start incorporating into your lifestyle without breaking a sweat:
1. Stand correctly
Have you ever thought about how you stand in everyday life? Do you shift your weight to one leg? Do your shoulders fall forward? Does your back round out? Often we are not even aware of our poor posture. Yet it’s enormously important and influences both our health and how we appear to other people.
Standing upright requires effort and muscle tension. Try to stand relaxed with a straight upper body. Draw your shoulders back and open your chest. Distribute your body weight evenly, stand steady and about hip-width apart. Your knees should be slightly bent and your pelvis should be tucked. To do this, round your spine and pull your pubic bone slightly toward your belly button. Your core muscles and glutes should be activated.
When standing for long periods of time, be sure to change your position regularly. Alternate between a parallel stance and having one foot slightly forward. If possible, lean against something. You can also rest your arms to relieve your back for a moment 3.
2. Dynamic Sitting
Yes, you read that right! Dynamic sitting means that instead of staying in the same position in your office chair, you occasionally adjust your position. For example, you might switch between an upright sitting posture and reclining, which involves leaning your upper and lower back into your chair. You can also try a sitting-forward posture and rest your arms on your desk.
A height-adjustable desk gives you the opportunity to change your position and work standing up whenever you want. Or just stand up every now and then, take a few steps around the room, and get a glass of water. Switching things up is a great proactive way to prevent back pain.
3. More movement in everyday life
We sit far too much. The lack of movement has a negative effect on both our well-being and our bodies. The muscles atrophy and the joints don’t move properly, which means they don’t get the nutrients they need in the best possible way and our cardiovascular system doesn’t get a workout.
Try to walk regularly and accumulate steps. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, play with your kids, or clean your apartment. Even a little stretching or some mobility exercises can work wonders towards low back pain prevention.
And if you do want to get a little more athletic, you can pay more attention to those deep, small muscles that rest directly on the spine and are mainly responsible for the mobility of your vertebrae. With stabilization exercises, you can train them specifically to help you to keep your balance in everyday life.
4. Back-friendly heavy lifting and carrying
Need to lift a heavy box? Treat your lifting technique like a deadlift: keep your back straight and tense your stomach. Push your glutes back and bend your torso forward. Bend your knees to get deep into the squat position. Go only as low as you need to and keep your heels on the ground. Grab the box and push yourself up using the strength from your leg muscles. Straighten back up to an upright standing position.
When lifting heavy groceries at home, remember to keep good posture in your spine and put equal weight on both sides of your body. You can also switch sides periodically while carrying.
5. Rise and Shine! Learn to get up properly
In the morning, right after getting up, it’s natural if your body’s a bit stiff. After all, you haven’t moved all night. So don’t jump out of bed right away – take your time to get your blood flow going.
First, lie on your side with your legs bent. Push your upper body up with both arms and turn your torso and legs over the edge of the bed. Let your feet touch the floor. Feel free to stretch a bit and carefully turn your head to the left and then to the right. Now you can stand up.
6. Bend over correctly
Want to tie your shoes for a moment and bend forward with a rounded back and stretched legs? Not a good idea! This puts too much strain on your lumbar spine. To prevent back pain, bend your knees instead and bend forward with a straight back. If you lack the flexibility to reach your shoes, you can rest one knee on the floor and place the other on the floor in front of you.
7. Reduce stress
Everyday stress can contribute to back injuries and cause back pain. Your back muscles have a complex structure and can become tense as a result of psychological pressure4. Therefore, try to consciously reduce stress by finding your own anti-stress strategy that suits you. For example, you can learn meditation or tai chi, read a book, go for a walk, or try autogenic training.
Disclaimer: Our tips do not replace medical advice or treatment. If you suffer from frequent spine or back pain or have acute back pain symptoms, consult a doctor.
- Any back problem can have different causes.
- The stress of everyday life and your posture can have a big impact on your back and your well-being.
- In addition to exercise, adopting new habits can help prevent back pain.
- Try to stand, sit, bend, and stand up in a way that is engaged and easy on your back. This applies for lifting heavy objects, as well.
- Bring more dynamism and variety into your day.
- Active lifestyle changes, good posture, and less everyday stress will increase your well-being and do good for your body and mind.
2pronova BKK “Digital, dynamisch, dauergestresst? Arbeiten 2020” https://www.pronovabkk.de/media/downloads/presse_studien/studie_arbeiten_2020/Studie_Arbeiten2020_Ergebnisse.pdf↩