A number of causes may be involved in back pain, with more than one possibly existing at the same time. Back pain usually occurs in the lower lumbar region, the area where the spine extends all the way to the back of the hip. A protracted stress on this area or a sudden twisting motion can cause abnormal contractions of the muscles. Here, tiny tears in the ligaments or muscles cause the pain.
Getting in shape and learning how to use your body properly are your best means of defending yourself against back injury. There are various exercises recommended by physiotherapists that can better the body tone generally, thus benefiting your back. Foremost of these exercises are those which give emphasis on the strengthening of leg and abdominal muscles. These two sets of muscles perform most of the work of propping up the back.
Sit-ups, with the legs bent, are perfect exercises for the abdomen; so are cycling, swimming, and rowing. Regular walking is likewise excellent. You, however, have to be wary of certain sports, like tennis, in which sudden intense exertions alternate with abrupt stops, lurches, and periods of inactivity. Those who are overweight should slim down, as the excess pounds could mean extra strain on their back.
Learning how to walk, sit, sleep, and lift properly, as well as having a good posture, will help you tremendously in avoiding back pain. When standing or walking, for example, contract your abdominal muscles and tuck your buttocks under slightly. Keep your torso loose and your shoulders back (though not in a seemingly overemphasized arch). Lift one foot to take some of the weight off your lower back (do this if it becomes necessary for you to stand for an extended period). Also whenever possible, avoid using shoes which can cause discomfort, such as high heels.
Compared to rounded chairs, straight-backed seats are much better for the back. This is because the latter keep you from assuming a drooping posture. When sitting, your knees should be kept higher than your hips. When rising from your seat, bend your knees and push off with your hands.
Always make sure that you use a firm mattress to sleep on. To avoid aggravating any back pain you may already have, never sleep on your stomach; the spine is forced into an exaggerated curve when you sleep this way. In case you can’t sleep lying on your back, lie on one side instead with the knees tucked up, as in a fetal position.
When lifting anything, let your legs do the real work instead of your back. Here’s how to lift things properly: get to the object you want to lift as near as possible; bend your knees slowly; and then come up with your back straight. A sure way for avoiding back pain or injury when lifting anything is to be careful in not bending at the waist.