Question

Back Pain

How can I prevent low-back pain?

A Answers (11)

  • AUCLA Health answered

    The key to preventing low back pain is to stay as healthy as possible, exercise and maintain strength in your core muscles, which help stabilize the spine most importantly, pay attention to your body, position and posture so that you put as little stress on your spine.

  • ALangston Holly, MD, Neurosurgery, answered on behalf of UCLA Health

    Make sure that you use good posture and technique while going about your daily activities. Don’t bend at the waist to pick up objects from the floor and avoid slouching when sitting. An ergonomically correct desk at work is very important. I also recommend exercise to strengthen the core muscles in the abdomen and low back. Maintaining proper body weight also is helpful to avoid low-back pain.

  • AYusuf Boyd, NASM Elite Trainer, Athletic Training, answered
    Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

    Some of the best practices to preventing low-back pain are maintaining adequate flexibility in the lumbo-pelvic hip complex (LPHC) as well as good core strength and stability. Because the LPHC is directly associated with both the upper and lower extremities, dysfunction in the LPHC can affect them both. For example, if your hamstrings (muscles on the back of your thigh) are tight they pull your pelvis (hips) down placing un due stress to the low back.

    On the other hand, your hip flexors (muscles on front of thigh and beneath and behind your abs) can also become tight and place stress on the low back. Over time either of these can lead to chronic low back pain.


    Again, the key is maintaining proper flexibility and having a strong and stable core. And as others have stated, keeping your weight down is also key.

     

  • ATasneem Bhatia, MD, Integrative Medicine, answered

    There are many reasons for low back pain. Chronic low back pain can be prevented. The key to prevention is core stabilization or strengthening the musculature of the abdominal wall. Minimizing weight gain around the waist and keeping the upper and lower back flexible help to keep low back pain away.

    Back pain in women can be more complex. Often, women have low back pain following childbirth or pain that worsens with hormonal fluctuations. Low back pain can also be an early warning sign of nutritional deificiencies.

    The best battle against back pain: stay active, keep excess weight away, strengthen the abdominal wall and be aware of your nutrition and any potential nutritional deficiencies!

     

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  • AJay Morgan, NASM Elite Trainer, Fitness, answered

    Low back pain can be potentially prevented by conditioning the foot and hip regions to perform optimally. The foot is the first structure to strike the ground, and thus sets the stage for the rest of the body to be in a position to succeed. Ensuring that the foot is loading and unloading properly is a critical component in the prevention of low back pain. Movements that involve lunging and balance reach moves (on one foot while reaching in multiple directions with your opposite foot) are great for mobilizing and stabilizing the foot. An optimal foot allows the lower and upper leg region to perform efficiently which leads to the hips.

    The hips are designed to move forward and back, side to side, and rotate left and right. When the hips are moving efficiently the lumbar spine (low back) can handle the duties of shock absorber and force transmitter. Unfortunately, if the hips lack mobility and stabilization strength the lumbar spine will try to help out. This extra workload for the lumbar spine is more then it is able to handle, and can potentially lead to low back pain. Movements that involve lunges and reaches are effective for mobilizing the hips. Incorporating 3-dimensional lunges with arm reaches at knee height and overhead height can be a great place to start. Performing balance moves on one foot while reaching one/two or both arms at varying heights will create stabilization strength at the hips.

    Although the low back is often the victim of pain, it usually is not the culprit. Try incorporating the above exercises to restore and prevent low-back pain.

  • ADavid W. Brinton, MD, Sports Medicine, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    Doctors and researchers have discovered factors that can lower your chances of having problems with your back. Here are some suggestions:
    • Practice good body mechanics. The term “bodymechanics” refers to how you move and hold yourbody. Developing good habits is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourselffrom painful back episodes.
    • Get regular exercise. Regular activity keeps yourbody strong and flexible to help support your back. Establish and maintain a regular exercise program that includes aerobic training (such as walking, swimming, or cycling) as well as stomach and back strengthening.
    • Manage your weight. Extra pounds put extra stress on your back. To lose weight, eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat foods. Keep portions small, avoid junk food, and exercise regularly!
    • Avoid activities that require heavy lifting, trunk twisting, or bodily vibration. These activities can place lots of stress and strain on your back. Avoid them when possible -- and always use proper body mechanics.
    • Reduce stress. Stress has also been shown to affect low back pain. Stress can cause muscular tension and sometimes spasm. Look at ways to reduce or manage the stress in your life.
    • Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Studies show that smokers have twice as much back pain as nonsmokers.
  • Low back pain can occur due to tightness in the muscles in the fornt of the hips (or hip flexors) and weakness of the gluteal and abdominal muscles (otherwise known as your core). These are common imbalances in people who sit for long periods of time. To help decrease your risk in developing low back pain, stretch your hip flexors reguarly. When stretching your hips, hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds. Also, perform core strengthening exercises. Start with 1 set of 10 and progress to 3 sets of 20.
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  • You can prevent back pain by increasing core stability and mobility, and improving your posture.

    Core stability is improved by doing exercises to strengthen all the muscles attached to the spine. This helps support the body and thus alleviates stress to the lower back.  A strong core acts as a brace or girdle and can reduce the wear and tear of your back.

     

    Core mobility is achieved by stretching the muscles so they maintain their range of motion. Tight leg and hip muscles and pull on the lower back and cause pain.

     

    Be aware of your sitting and standing posture.  If you have a sitting job, engage your abs, keep chest lifted and hinge forward at the hip with a flat back.  This posture helps you stay in the neutral spine position which puts less load on the lower back. 

  • ARonald Tolchin, DO, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida

    Low-back pain affects most people at one time or another. For some, it is a chronic condition that requires ongoing therapy.

    For most others, common-sense tips can help prevent low-back pain, including good posture when sitting for extended periods of time, sleeping on your side to reduce any curve in your spine and avoiding heavy lifting without proper technique.

    Regular exercise can also help keep your back strong and flexible. Low-impact exercises are recommended, such as walking, swimming or cycling. Yoga or basic stretching exercises can help strengthen and improve posture.

    Weight training exercises can also strengthen back muscles, but start out with light weights to avoid strained muscles. Basic abdominal exercises can also help your lower back.

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  • ARealAge answered
    Steps you can take to prevent back pain include the following:
    • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
    • Consider having your gait evaluated and corrected, if appropriate, with fitted shoe inserts (orthotics).
    • Make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
    • Use a chair with good lower back support that may recline slightly.
    • If you must sit for long periods, rest your feet on the floor or on a low stool, whichever is more comfortable.
    • If you must stand for long periods, rest one foot on a low stool.
    • If you must drive long distances, use a pillow or a rolled-up towel behind the small of your back. Also, be sure to stop often and walk around for a few minutes.
    • If you have trouble sleeping, sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees or sleep on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between your knees.
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  • AMatthew C. Evans, MD, Sports Medicine, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare

    The majority of the causes of back pain are due stress placed on the spine and its supporting muscles.

    Here are 3 ways to minimize this stress and prevent back pain.

    1. Maintain a healthy weight. Adding body fat the mid-section greatly increases the stress on the back with sitting, standing, and, especially, with bending and movement.
    2. Use your back properly. This basically comes down to posture. This is not only applied to sitting and standing, but to the posture and mechanics we use when we bend, squat, or lift. For this reason, many companies have incorporated ‘back school’ into their employee orientation. In this day and age many of use spend a lot of the day sitting. Some of us sit with poor posture that can increase the stress on the spinal structures, especially the intervertebral discs. This can also be associated with muscle weakness, which brings us to our last point.
    3. Strengthen your back. By this I do not mean how much you can lift, but how well your back muscles support your spine. Muscular endurance is also an important part of this. Sit-ups or crunches are one way, but not the only way to do this. Yoga and Pilates are some of the best spinal exercises. Even aerobic exercises like running and swimming help with back muscle strength and endurance.

    A healthy diet with recommended calcium and vitamin D and avoiding smoking are also preventative.

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