Ouch! 4 common causes of back pain

It’s all too familiar for most of us — that nagging ache in the lower back. In fact, about four out of five Americans will experience lower back pain at some point.

While there are many treatment options for back pain, the best treatment is really to prevent it from occurring in the first place. And the first step toward doing that? Knowing the causes.

Read on as we take a quick look at four common causes of back pain.

Back pain cause 1: The wrong lifting technique

Admit it — you’ve leaned down to pick something up before and felt something pull in your back. Most of us have done it!

That’s why it’s important to know the proper form for both bending and lifting. You don’t want to improperly engage your back when lifting. Instead, use your entire core to support the weight.

Try this technique:

  • Bend your knees and move downward, keeping your back straight. Don’t bend at the waist.
  • Hold the object you’re lifting close to your body to put a minimal amount of stress on the back.
  • Hold the object between the bottom of your armpits and the top of your knees.
  • Don’t twist or turn while lifting. Change direction with your feet, not your waist.

Back pain cause 2: Too much time sitting

Our bodies were not made to sit all the time. But these days, that’s exactly what most of us do a lot of the time.

Many jobs require hours spent at a desk in front of a computer. That’s not the best of conditions for your back.

But even worse than that is how we often find ourselves sitting. In an attempt to focus or grasp the information we’re reading on the screen, we often lean forward in our chairs. That puts all kinds of pressure on the spine.

The best thing you can do is get up and move regularly, but beyond that, watch your posture as you sit. Choose a chair that allows you to sit back comfortably with your back fully supported.

Back pain cause 3: Workout wounds

Whether you’re a cardio queen or you love lifting weights, working out and participating in sports are common causes of back pain.

Most athletic activities involve some lifting, bending and twisting. When done the wrong way, these movements can have painful effects.

When it comes to physical activity, one of the most important things you can do is focus on building your core. That doesn’t just mean your abs, though. Your core also includes your back, your pelvis and your backside — all of which work together to help you make most movements.

So, build your core with exercises like lunges, planks and squats, which all focus on multiple muscle groups at the same time.

Back pain cause 4: How you sleep

Are you a stomach sleeper? You might be putting undue pressure on your back!

That might seem counter-intuitive, but when you’re lying on your tummy, your spine is contorted in an odd way. If you can’t sleep any other way, put a pillow under your hips to alleviate the pressure on your spine.

Otherwise, try switching to sleeping on your side or your back, which keeps your spine elongated in a neutral position.

Your mattress can also be a problem, so choose one that’s good for the back  for optimal sleep and back health.

Dealing with back pain that isn’t going away after home treatment? Erlanger offers a variety of non-surgical and surgical treatment options to help you find relief. Learn more.