Back pain is common and has many causes. Wrenching your back by lifting a weight that’s too heavy or suffering the cumulative effects of manual labor are common sources of back pain. Yet another risk factor for back pain is living a sedentary lifestyle. And it’s one you can control.
Getting more active does more than help your back, too. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality and accounts for 6% of deaths worldwide.
Nasser Ani, MD, FACS, FRCS(C), diagnoses and treats acute and chronic back pain at Ani Orthopaedics in Hazlet, Old Bridge, and Middletown, New Jersey. If you currently have pain or want to avoid it, here’s how incorporating movement into your lifestyle can help your back.
Prolonged sitting increases risk
The bad news about remote work is that you spend a lot of time at home, sitting in front of your computer. Gone is your chance to park away from your office and take a brisk walk to and from your car.
The path to your kitchen is also shorter than that from your office to your favorite lunch spot. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, with lots of sitting and not much walking or other types of physical activity, you have a 3.5 times greater risk of developing back pain than someone who lives an active lifestyle.
Exercise combats back pain
If you have back pain, your tendency may be to limit movement. Unfortunately, that’s the wrong tactic. Not only does exercise strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support your spine, moving the joints in your spine keep them lubricated, so they move smoothly.
However, it’s important to ease into an exercise regimen that matches your current fitness level and addresses the factors involved in your back pain. In addition to a thorough physical exam of your back, we order imaging tests to identify all of the factors involved in your pain.
For instance, you may have a slipped disc that’s compressing a nerve. Or, you could have spinal stenosis, which narrows the space in your spinal canal, which can also irritate nerves.
Once we understand all of the components involved in your back pain, we custom-design a treatment plan, including an exercise regimen. We may prescribe medications or treatments to address your current discomfort.
We also work with you to create exercises and activities that you enjoy that can be added to as you gain strength and flexibility. Everything from walking to gardening to housework can help keep your back limber and strong.
You should aim for about 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. However, you can accomplish that in bouts of just 10 minutes or more, instead of spending hours at the gym.
Change the way you work
If you must sit down as part of your job, take frequent breaks so that you don’t become stiff. Stand up, stretch, and walk around every hour or so, if possible. You may also wish to invest in a standing desk or a desk that can vary in height from sitting to standing.
You might also want to change the type of chair you use or adjust its height to work better with your body. Ergonomically designed chairs help support your back and promote good posture, too.
If you’re reluctant to start adding more activities into your routine, let us know, so we can help you get moving and give you the treatments you need to reduce your back pain.
Contact our team at the location nearest you by phone or online form today.