Back pain series part 1: How I minimise and prevent back pain

You know that dreaded feeling. Your back feels so stiff and tight. No amount of bending and stretching eases the discomfort. And it gets so bad that you’d think that the only way to ease the discomfort was if your waist just snapped! Such days are miserable.  So how do I minimise these occurrences or prevent back pain in the first place?

In this multi-part blog series. I’ll share my daily habits to prevent back pain, exercises for a stronger back, as well as my SOP after I have hurt my back.

Preventive measures against back pain

Cut out cold drinks!

There were periods of time where my back would get stiff very quickly for no reason. All factors remained the same: I worked about the same number of hours at my desk, my frequency of exercise was about the same.

So what was going on? I figured it was due to the frozen fruit I was using in my smoothies daily – frozen avocadoes.. kiwis.. bananas.

It was painful to cut them out of my diet. So instead of having one frozen piece of fruit every day, I would have them say once every three days and use fresh fruits in the interim.

Once I cut back on the cold stuff, the tightness went away.

Reduce the amount of time sitting

  • Take regular walking breaks. This helps to stretch out muscles that are getting tight from staying in the same position for long periods.
  • Intersperse stand up time when working. You could work at a high table or invest in a standing desk. I use the bar table.

Sleep right with a firm mattress and pillow

  • A mattress that has gone soft no longer offers firm support. Rather we sink into it and our body takes on a hunched position. Such an unnatural position will result in back pain.
  • Likewise, I’m sure we have experienced neck ache after sleeping on a pillow that is too flat or soft. Our muscles are an interconnected network, if one area is feeling tight, another area will compensate for it. So say my neck and shoulders are tight, these will eventually contribute to muscle tightness in my back.

Good posture is key!

  • Put body weight on both feet when standing, rather than putting it on one hip, with knees slightly bent.  (Standing with knees locked causes the joint to hyperextend, causing unnecessary pressure.)

Practise good posture to prevent back pain

(Image on left)

🙁 When we work on our laptops, the screen is usually lower than eye-level so we’d tend to hunch, causing strain in our necks, upper and lower backs.

🙁 Crossing our legs causes uneven weight distribution on our pelvis and thus strains our lower back.

(Image on right)

🙂 Try not to hunch, screen to be at eye level (my screen should ideally be placed higher though I ran out of items to put under my laptop )

🙂 Place both feet flat on the ground

Sensible footwear and bag

  • I avoid high heels or footwear with very thin soles, unless absolutely necessary
  • I carry a backpack as opposed to a handbag.  A handbag places weight on only one shoulder thus causing the opposite side of my back to spasm. This will then cause tightness and pain. I also minimise the weight that I carry around to prevent back pain..
A backpack distributes weight to both shoulders.

A backpack distributes weight to both shoulders.

Last but not least, I practise mindful walking to prevent back pain

Having a flexible waist/back that has experienced multiple strains makes me prone to injury. It is all too common for me to say miss a step, and strain my back in the process.

So as much as I can, I practise mindful walking. I hold up my body with my core so that it is my core muscles taking the weight of my body, not my spine.

Easier said than done I know, but it’s worth the effort. Not only does it result in better posture, it also slims the silhouette and makes one look taller.

What about you? What do you do to keep back pain at bay?

(This post was edited by my nine-year-old nephew Teagan.  As he read through the post, he asked me about concepts that he was unfamiliar with. On the other hand,  while I explained to him my reason for my choice of words, I rewrote parts which he didn’t understand upon first read.  It was fun to work together and I think he did a great job!)

#avoidbackpain #managebackpain

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