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8 Surprising Habits That Cause Back Pain

8 Surprising Habits That Cause Back Pain

Mysterious aches and pains? The cause may surprise you用lus, easy fixes for back pain culprits.

1. The Habit: Sleeping On An Old Mattress

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good mattress will last nine to ten years. Haven’t replaced yours since Cheers first aired? Chances are that your spine isn’t getting the support it needs.

The Fix: Replace your old mattress with one that’s not too hard and not too soft葉he former won’t allow the curves of your back to sink in, and the latter won’t offer enough support. A memory foam topper can also be helpful because it’ll contour to your body, allowing your spine to stay straight throughout the night.

 

2. The Habit: Carrying a Huge Bag

If you’re someone who likes to carry around all the essentials and nonessentials in your bag, your back is feeling it. Carrying a heavy load on one side of your body causes your shoulders to become imbalanced, throwing your spine out of balance too.

The Fix: Switch to a lighter bag葉he American Chiropractic Association recommends that your purse (with everything in it) weighs no more than 10 percent of your body weight. You can also spread out all of your stuff between a purse and a tote, one on each shoulder, to stay balanced.

 

3. The Habit: Wearing Stilettos…Or Flats

Heels that are too high for you will force you to arch your back, putting stress on your joints. But flats can also be bad for you, depending on your foot type. Sandals without a supportive back can also do damage, causing your feet to move from side to side and distributing your body weight unevenly.

The Fix: Everyone has an ideal heel height for them (which is why some can’t live without ballet flats, and some claim their stilettos are the most comfortable shoes they own). Find yours with this guide from the Daily Mail: sit in a chair and extend one leg out in front of you. Let your foot and ankle relax and fall naturally, and measure the distance between your big toe and the bottom of your heel葉hat’s your ideal heel height. If your foot doesn’t angle at all, flats are your best bet.

 

4. The Habit: Holding a Grudge

Still mad at Susan for bringing three bacon dishes to your vegetarian potluck? Your back may be suffering too. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that people who practice forgiveness experienced fewer feelings of anger, resentment, depression預nd fewer aches and pains. “Our emotions, muscle tension, and thoughts can directly influence the strength of our pain signals,” explains researcher James W. Carson, PhD.

The Fix: Not only are grudges bad for you physically, they don’t do much for you emotionally either. Start the process of giving up a grudge by setting an intention to do so, encouraging even the smallest feelings of forgiveness, and replacing negative thoughts with reasons to let go.

 

5. The Habit: Sitting All Day

Bad news for all of us with a desk job擁t’s bad for your health and not just because of the giant candy bowl. Sitting around all day may feel nice, but most of us don’t maintain proper posture while sitting in front of a computer all day, causing back muscles to weaken because of inactivity. Sitting also puts 40 percent more pressure on your spine than standing does.

The Fix: See whether your office would get you a standing desk葉hey help you keep your core and back muscles engaged all day. If that’s not an option, lean back throughout the day so you’re sitting at a 135-degree angle擁t reduces compression of the discs in the spine. Finally, make sure your head is straight, not straining forward, when using the computer. (See: 10 Exercises for Better Posture)

 

6. The Habit: Stressing Out

When you’re stressed out, your whole body is too擁ncluding the muscles in your neck and back, which contract and clench up. And if you keep stressing, those tight muscles don’t get a chance to relax, causing pain.

The Fix: The good news? There are plenty of proven ways to lower your stress levels容verything from exercise to meditation to a warm bath.

 

7. The Habit: Skipping Workouts

Exercise builds muscle tone that’s essential for supporting your back. When you don’t get enough of it, you experience stiffness and weakened muscles, and spinal discs become degenerated.

The Fix: Workouts that strengthen the back and abdomen are your best best葉ry pairing light cardio with Pilates or strength training. (See: 5 Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain)


8. The Habit: Eating Too Much Junk Food

Not surprisingly, an excess of high-calorie, low-nutrient food leads to weight gain. And that weight gain can put a load on your back too容xcess weight around the midsection causes the pelvis to pull forward, creating stress for the lower back. Overweight people are also at an increased risk of osteoarthritis.

The Fix: The good news? Dropping even five to ten percent of your body weight can greatly improve your health. Start with small healthy habits that’ll stick耀wap three big meals a day for four to five smaller ones, switch from butter to a healthier alternative (like coconut oil), and drinking green tea.

Related:
27 Foods That Contain Natural Aspirin
Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain

Read more: General Health, Health, Natural Remedies

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Diana Vilibert

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. You can be blog-friends with her at dianavilibert.com, or tweet her at @dianavilibert.

230 comments

+ add your own
1:45AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

Thank you :)

3:12PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Also, very helpful having the method of fixing the problem underneath each section :)

3:12PM PDT on Jul 8, 2014

Thanks for sharing. Some of these I didn't know about, but as a double bass player I think that's probably the equivalent of number 2 and I can't get around that!

11:13AM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

I'm guilty of stressing out, getting grumpy sometimes and sleeping on a very old mattress, so I need to fix all of those, but many times recommendations don't take into account budgets or the stressors in one's life. I would love to see some suggestions to deal with those.

4:08AM PDT on Jun 16, 2014

Time for a change for life

9:10PM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

I was hunched over with my head forward, reading this. Oops!

5:12AM PDT on Jun 11, 2014

Those sound like good tips for your back.

2:58AM PST on Feb 23, 2014

Thanks

2:17PM PST on Jan 31, 2014

interesting information about types of shoes that can cause backache.

10:18AM PST on Jan 28, 2014

Good post!

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