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Worst Habits That Hurt Your Back

Worst Habits That Hurt Your Back

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Published by: Aranganathan.k on Jun 01, 2010
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Worst Habits That Hurt Your Back:
Back pain isn’t just about heavy lifting or sleeping the wrong way. Here, 14surprising everyday habits that cause aches and pains—and how to feel better.
Get to the Bottom of Your Back Pain
Back pain sends more patients to doctors than any condition other than the common cold.
It’s the fifth most common reason for hospitalizations and third most commoncause of surgery. And 56% of people with lower-back aches say symptomsdisrupt their daily routines, including sleep and sex. Talk about a pain inthe...back.There are many possible causes of back pain, which means there are alsomany non-invasive solutions, according to Todd Sinett, a chiropractor andcoauthor of 
The Truth about Back Pain
. "Back pain is rarely onecatastrophic event," he says in the book, "but several situations combiningto create pain." And it turns out that some seemingly insignificanteveryday habits can take a big toll on your back over time. Here, the top14 mistakes that may be causing your aches and how to correct them.
1. You’re Chained to Your Desk 
Did you know that sitting puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing?
Let’s be honest: Maintaining proper posture is probably the last thing you’rethinking about when under a major work deadline. And on a jam-packedday, regular stretching breaks may not seem like a wise way to spend yourtime. But skipping these habits may cause your back to suffer. That’sbecause back muscles will weaken if you don’t use them; inactive jointslose lubrication and age more quickly.Fix It: Sitting at a 135-degree angle can reduce compression of the discs inthe spine, so lean back slightly every now and then. Do it when you take aphone call or a coworker stops by to chat, Sinett recommends. Make sureyour office chair supports the curve of your spine, he says: Your lowerback should be supported, and your head should be straight—not lurchingforward—when you look at your computer screen. Get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every half hour—take trips to get water,use the bathroom, or grab papers off the printer.
2. You Have a Long Commute
 Just like at your desk, hunching over a steering wheel can tighten chest muscles and causeyour shoulders to round.
Slumping posture can zap energy and make you look heavier, not to mentioncause back and neck problems. Back pain is the number one complaint of the patients of Darran W. Marlow, DC, director of the chiropracticdivision at the Texas Back Institute, and he advises them to first think about their driving posture.Fix it: "Be sure you sit at a 90-degree angle, close to the wheel so you don'thave to stretch," he says. "Extending your leg puts your back in acompromised position, but many people don't even realize they're doingit."
3. You’ve Been Ditching the Gym
Get moving to alleviate aches and pains and fix back pain faster.
New research shows that 40% of people become less active after back painstrikes—a strategy that's likely to delay healing or even make theircondition worse.Fix it: In fact, most sufferers would benefit from more exercise— particularly frequent walks, which ease stiffness, says spine surgeon RajRao, MD. For instant relief, he recommends stretching your hamstringsand hips.Moves like thesewill take some strain off your back.
4. You Don’t Do Yoga
By improving circulation and lowering stress, just about any kind of exercise promotes backpain recovery. But yoga may be best.
University of Washington researchers say yoga eases lower-back pain faster thanconventional exercises. In a different study, 101 patients were randomlyassigned to one of three groups. The first group took weekly yoga classesand practiced at home; the second group participated in weekly exercisesessions developed by a physical therapist, plus practiced at home; and thethird group received a self-help back care book. After 3 months, the yogagroup had better back-related functioning, compared with the other twogroups. And after 6 months, patients who took yoga reported less back pain and better back-related functioning. Because it promotes deepbreathing and relaxation, as well as stretching and strength, yoga may helpwith both emotional and structural triggers of back pain.
Fix it: You can find yoga classes everywhere—at gyms, YMCAs, and localstudios. Make sure to tell the instructor about your pain so she can helpmodify certain moves for you. Or check outour yoga videos onprevention.comto mix and match your own soothing workout.
5. You’re Addicted to Crunches
Sit-ups and crunches may actually cause more back pain than they prevent, according toSinett.
We hear all the time how a strong core protects your back, which is true. Butcrunches don’t work the ab muscles that stabilize your back. In fact, theycan contribute to pain by causing what Sinett calls core imbalance, "acondition of excessive compression, which results in the spine curvingforward in a C-like shape."Fix it: You don’t have to ditch crunches entirely, but you should do themslowly and use proper form. Include them as part of a broader coreworkout that also strengthens your transverse abdominus. This muscle isparticularly important for a strong, steady core that supports your back,and the best way to strengthen it is with (noncrunch!)exercises like these.Added bonus: You’ll whittle your middle and beat hard-to-torch belly fatwhile improving posture and relieving back pain.
6. You’re Not the Healthiest Eater
Research shows that eating habits that are good for your heart, weight, and blood sugar arealso good for your back.
Finnish research found that people who suffered from back pain were morelikely to have clogged arteries to the spine than healthy control subjects.Healthy circulation brings nutrients to the spine and removes waste, saysSinett. If this doesn’t happen, inflammation can result, and inflammatorychemicals in the back can trigger nerves to send pain signals to the brain.Fix it: A back-healthy diet is one that reduces inflammation, according tothe
The Truth about Back Pain
. The book’s plan advises avoiding excesscaffeine and processed foods (read ingredient labels for the following:hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, enriched wheat flour, wordsending in
, and additives that end in
), and eating morewhole grains, soy, nuts and seeds, protein (chicken, fish, lean meat),vegetables, and fruit.

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