Back pain plagues more than 1 in 10 people worldwide. And when we think of back pain, we often think of injury, accident, or overuse. But there are many other, less commonly known, causes of back pain. Knowing these may help you pinpoint the cause of your pain and help you discover a way to fix it.
1. Lack of exercise. Exercise helps you build the muscle tone you need to properly support your back. Being too sedentary can also lead to weight gain which puts added strain on your back. Try to incorporate cardiovascular and strength training exercises into your routine a few days a week, focusing on your abs and back muscles for a strong, supportive core.
2. Your phone. Using your shoulder to hold your cell phone against your ear can cause strain on your neck, which can extend to your back. Headphones are a great solution that allow you to keep better posture when on long phone calls. Be mindful of texting, too, as bending your neck to look down at your phone can cause similar pain.
3. Your office chair. Staying in any one position for too long can lead to back pain. So it’s no real surprise that sitting at your desk for long periods of time can wreak havoc on your spine. If your office chair is not supportive, is uncomfortable, or you don’t get up and move every 45 minutes to an hour, it may only be a matter of time before your back starts to feel the effects.
4. Worn out shoes. If you spend a lot of time in one pair of shoes, make sure they’re supportive and the soles aren’t worn out. Proper arch support is crucial and without it your gait is impacted, which can lead to back pain.
5. Mattress. As we mentioned earlier, spending too much time in one position can lead to back pain. Now think about how much time you spend on your mattress. If your mattress is old, you sink into it when you lie down, or it’s just not supporting you in a way that’s comfortable (and this is different for everyone), it may be time to replace it. While comfort levels vary by person, lean toward the firmer, more supportive side if you’re dealing with back pain.
6. Heavy over-the-shoulder bags. Carrying around a large handbag or heavy backpack on one shoulder can affect the curve of your spine and put strain on your neck. If you’re suffering from back and/or neck pain, take a look at what you carry around on a daily basis. A backpack carried properly on both shoulders may be a better option. At the very least, try to clean out and downsize your handbag so it isn’t too heavy.
7. Smoking. We all know smoking is bad for your lungs and heart. But did you also know that smoking deprives your body of oxygen, which can lead to weak muscles? Weak muscles can lead to back pain. If you were looking for another reason to quit smoking, this is it.