People regularly ask me what is the most common problem I treat. Easy…back pain! Statistically, this makes sense as 50% of us walk around with back pain each year. In fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work and second most common reasons for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
“My back hurts, I must just be getting old.” Contrary to popular believe, pain is NOT normal. Most people don’t get pain just because we get older. The reason most of us feel it as we age is the poor habits we have developed over the years and the long-term effects of these poor habits. No matter what age you are, there are ways to help/prevent your pain.
What can you do to prevent your back pain?
- Posture! Posture! Posture! Think of your body as an erect, moving pulley system. Your muscles’ game of tug of war are what keep you upright. If you are slouching at your desk all day, the muscles on your back are pulled too tight (ouch!) and they stop getting circulation. Pain chemicals build up in them causing you discomfort. Take a break every half hour to stretch and try sitting straight to relieve some of your pain.
- Strengthen your back. When we strengthen our back muscles, they shorten up and help keep us in good posture all of the time without us having to consciously think about it. Yoga and weights are good, but my personal favorite is pilates.
- High heels are the devil! I can think of several patients of mine who hate this fact. However, since having changed their ways, they would be forced to admit that it has helped their back pain tremendously. Wearing heels puts abnormal pressure on your ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, and back. Just ask my 36 year old patient who just had foot surgery due to 15 straight years of daily high heel wearing.
- Lighten those purses, ladies. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your backpack or purse weigh not more than 10% of your total body weight. In addition, switch the shoulder you carry it on often.
- Time for a new mattress and/or pillow. Old mattresses can cause you to wake up with aches and pains because they don’t offer the support you need to keep your back in proper alignment. Consider replacing your mattress every 10 years.
- Get regular chiropractic care! Chiropractic has been shown to be more effective for back and neck pain than other treatments, including drugs, surgery, or p.t.
Dr. Nichole Freeman is a Colorado-licensed, board-certified chiropractor. Email her your questions here. Call 720-279-8726 to schedule your consultation.