Ways You’re Hurting Your Back

For days you’re back has felt sore and stiff and you’re not sure why? You haven’t done anything out of the ordinary, nor are you suffering from any injuries. And yet, here you are, wincing in pain with every step you take and trying everything you can to find some relief. Back pain isn’t always caused by a dramatic injury. In fact, the vast majority of back pain is caused by every day activities; things that you’d never think could cause any type of discomfort. From a violent sneeze to lugging an oversized designer bag, you just might be contributing to your own pain and may not even be aware.

Most of the time, a sneeze is just a sneeze. You sneeze, blow your nose and move on. But sometimes, the sudden, extreme motion of a sneeze can actually cause the joints in the spine to shift, jam or otherwise move, causing pain. In fact, if one or more of your discs are already on the verge of herniating, an especially explosive sneeze can cause the disc to slip, resulting in extreme pain. The flutter created around the spine from a forceful sneeze can also cause back spasms and other discomforts. If you ever feel a sudden pain in your spine after sneezing, make an appointment to see your doctor to rule out a potentially serious condition. There have been reported cases of serious injuries and even paralysis, caused by a simple sneeze.

Repetitive motion
When you think of repetitive motion injuries, you think of carpal tunnel syndrome, an inflammation of the nerves and tendons in the arms caused by repetitive tasks like typing or using a computer mouse. However, repetitive motion can also cause back pain. For example, a worker packing boxes in a factory might experience back pain from constant lifting and bending motions, or a landscaper might feel stiffness and pain from lugging heavy equipment all day or bending to weed out flower beds.

The key to avoiding these types of injuries is to change positions frequently. Also, make an effort to avoid repeating the same motions in the same way for an extended period. If possible, ask your employer to perform an ergonomic evaluation of your workstation, and make adjustments to ensure that your body is supported and you can go about your routine without harming yourself in any way.

Not enough movement
While repetitive motion is a major cause of back pain and discomfort, so is a sedentary lifestyle. The longer you sit still, the more likely the fluid surrounding the joints of your spine will stiffen and you’ll experience discomfort. Attempt to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, and if you have to spend hours at your desk, take frequent breaks to stretch and loosen your muscles and joints. You’ll experience far less pain and stiffness in your back.

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Tucking in for the night is supposed to relax and rejuvenate you—but if your mattress is in poor shape, your pillow is old (or you have too many pillows) or your position isn’t right, you could wake up feeling less than refreshed and might even experience some pain and discomfort. If your mattress is lumpy, saggy, too firm or too soft, it is not supporting your spine and your body will not be able to enjoy a restful slumber.

Your mattress is supposed to support your body so your muscles can relax, but if you’re constantly adjusting to get comfortable, your muscles stay tight and engaged—and you’ll wake up feeling stiff and achy all over. Likewise, if your pillow does not provide adequate support to your head and neck, your back will hurt in the morning. Ideally, you should sleep on a firm but comfortable mattress, on your side or back with pillows especially designed to suit your particular sleeping position.

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