26 Mar 5 Tips to Prevent Back Pain
In most circumstances back pain is self-inflicted, I would say. Let me explain……Unless there is a significant injury,(road accident, lifting heavy weight or falls and sports related injury) most of us bring upon us the curse of getting back pain. And this happens as a process of not caring for our body as a whole. The immediate episode of back pain draws our attention. But the truth is that it was ‘scheduled’ to happen and we let it happen over a long period of time. So lets learn how to prevent going down that lane.
As discussed in my earlier blog ‘why me?’, there are some things that are not in your control i.e the genes responsible for having a bad back. But avoiding the following back bashing habits will help us all.
1) Control/Reduce your weight-
Now this, each one of us knows but FAIL miserably to act upon. Keeping your weight in limits (thumb rule “Height in centimeters minus 100 = your approximate ideal weight) apart from various other health advantages keeps back pain at bay, purely by its mechanical advantage. Lesser kilos put that much lesser load on the shock absorbers in the back and knees as well. (called discs by doctors, these are cushions between spine bones) So shed kilos….By diet control. Exercises, yoga etc maintain the weight. If you have to loose weight you must control your diet or else take medical help (obesity doctors)
2) Do not sit continuously –
The curse of our modern work style – desk-job!!
Most of us spend obscene amount of time sitting. As shown in the video, the cushion between the bones is literally squeezed to the limits during sitting. This repetitive injury wears out the disc slowly but surely. Multiply this by the amount of time, which we sit. Scientifically its proven that the pressures on the disc are at its peak when sitting. What’s the way out?? The easiest is to avoid sitting CONTINUOUSLY. Take frequent breaks from sitting; change the way you work, sometimes sitting, standing. Recently there was an article in Times Of India (sept 18, 2014 about advantages of standing at work place. Recently one of my radiology colleague took to a standing workstation(see image) to prevent the disadvantages of sitting.
Many companies and individuals are now adopting these workplace changes to save themselves from this growing issue.
3) Safe back habits-
We subconsciously have developed these following activities which needs retraining ourselves. For e.g. Avoid bending in the back while lifting anything- Go near, bend in your knees and lift the object. If it is a heavy object carry it closer to your body rather than away from it.
Avoid Slouching while watching TV- Yes we all need to relax, but not at the expense of damage to a vital system which will put you out of action for a long time. Follow all the oft repeated cardinal rules while sitting, like proper arm and back support but by far the MOST important of them all is avoid sitting continuously. Thankfully the advertising agencies come to our rescue. Get up from your seated position whenever there is a commercial break.
Avoid driving continuously without break in a low seated sedan- Nothing wrong in owning a sedan but it comes with a potential ‘extra’ price paid by our backs. Again avoid sitting continuously during journeys, take frequent breaks. Not to mention the otherwise rough ride we get due to our Indian roads. A far cry from the German Autobahns or US state highways – that’s another story.
4) Stay fit by exercising-
Motivate yourself. Last few years I ran the Mumbai Half marathon. Its a must visit occasion for anyone who is procrastinating his/her fitness. Just be there… the inspiration to start actively doing something about fitness increases manifold. Its a festive site to the eyes with people enjoying once they finish their targets. Generally it needs a health issue for most of us to start thinking about fitness. Lets take equal interest in games and fitness for our children as we do for all school subjects. Lets start motivating them from a younger age. As regards grown-ups, do iron out your medical issues with a fitness expert/doctor before embarking on this “new” journey. Do things the proper way by learning about it. In the haste of getting fit fast, you might injure yourself. As regards the back -starting gradually with strengthening exercises of the stomach and back help in the long term. Start gradually and build on what you’ve gained is the mantra. Involving yourself in fitness groups is another good tip to ensure the longevity of the task. We all get bored after few months of exercises, that’s when having a group helps. It motivates each other and you are left with no excuse, generally. But the fire has to be from within. How long you ask? The answer is lifelong. Being and staying fit is all about doing it for life…No shortcuts.
5) Check on your vitamin supplements-
Indian diet unlike the western counterparts isn’t fortified with essential vitamins. In case of prevention of back pain, vitamin D and B group are essential. Before starting on rehab please do check your blood levels of these vital ingredients. The treatment is easiest by taking vitamin supplement pills, diet needing obscenely large quantities to take (esp. milk and dairy products). But do repeat these at least once a year to keep it under check.