There is plenty you can do to prevent back pain at home. All it takes are some simple changes to your daily routine.
Acute back pain is most often caused by everyday tasks rather than traumatic events like a car accident or fall. People tell me all the time how they hurt themselves doing minor chores around the house.
One common trigger is bending over to tie a shoe or pick something up off the ground. A flash of pain, muscles tighten, and suddenly the person can’t stand up straight.
You wouldn’t think such casual movements could incapacitate a person, but it happens more often than you’d think.
Pain flare-ups like these aren’t caused by any one single event, however. They’re generally the consequence of many physical stressors that build up over time.
Then something like bending over to pet the dog becomes the breath that finally breaks the balloon.
The Importance Of Healthy Spinal Curves
Many lower back injuries occur because people don’t bend properly.
The following are all situations which I’ve been told caused a sudden onset of back pain at home:
- Washing dishes
- Shaving over a sink
- Putting on shoes
- Clipping toenails
- Applying make-up in a mirror
- Bending over in the shower
- Picking up a toddler from a crib
- Pulling weeds
- Pushing a lawn mower
- Filling a pet bowl
All these activities have one thing in common. They involve bending forward and making the lower back support the upper body.
The natural curves of the spine act like the shocks on your car. They absorb and dissipate physical forces to which our bodies are subjected every day.
Without them, the simple act of walking or stepping off a curb would be enough to injure spinal joints.
Therefore, any activity that rounds the spine while under load should be avoided.
Simple Tips To Prevent Back Pain At Home
*None of what you read on this website should be considered medical advice. If you make any changes to your life or health regimen because of something you read here, please do so under the guidance of a licensed health professional.
1. Bend and Lift Properly
The best piece of advice I can offer to help you prevent back pain at home is this:
Whenever you bend forward, also bend your knees and hinge your hips back.
If you’ve ever seen someone do dead-lifts in the gym, this maneuver is mandatory to prevent injury.
Observe this weight lifter’s posture. Knees bent, hips back, chest up, eyes forward.
Bending like this keeps the upper torso close to the center of gravity and protects the lower back.
Whenever you lift something, bend like this and keep the object close to your body.
2. Shift Weight Into Your Thighs
This tip can save you from a lot of back pain at home and at work.
When you lean forward with straight legs, all stress is placed on the low back.
Standing like this is common while washing dishes, getting ready in the bathroom mirror, working over a table, etc.
You can transfer the weight away from your spine and into your thighs by leaning your knees into something sturdy like a cabinet or dresser.
*Be careful if you have knee problems. If this position hurts, stop.
If you do this correctly, you should feel your thighs doing the work instead of your lower back.
3. Adjust Your Work Space
Good posture can greatly reduce the strain on your neck while working at a desk.
Imagine that you’re holding a short pole with a bowling ball secured to the top.
When the pole is directly underneath the bowling ball, little effort is required to hold it up.
As you start tipping the bowling ball forward, however, it gets heavier and more difficult to control. You have to use more strength to keep the bowling ball from falling.
This effect occurs when doing desk work, as well. The further your head leans forward, the harder your neck muscles have to work to hold it up.
Over time, this can cause posture problems, neck tension, and pain.
Set up your work space to avoid slouching. This can be as simple as moving your chair closer to the desk and raising your computer monitor to eye level.
4. Limit Sitting Time
Even if you sit with perfect posture at a perfectly ergonomic work space, sitting for long periods is bad for the lower back.
The objective for using good posture while sitting is more for saving the upper back and neck.
If you work at a desk or spend a lot of time sitting, you absolutely must take steps to reduce lower back stress.
Set a timer on your phone to remind you to stand up, take a walk, or do some stretches throughout your day.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
Yard work is probably the #1 reason my patients suffer from back pain at home.
The problem isn’t so much the activity of weeding and gardening. It’s the length of time spent doing them.
Pulling weeds for 10 minutes isn’t too stressful for most people. Spending the entire afternoon pulling weeds, however, can be stressful on anyone.
If you’re doing anything that is stressful on the spine, take breaks frequently to rest.
6. 10 – 15 Minutes of Yoga Every Day
I like yoga, not so much for stretching tight muscles, but to gently flex, extend, and rotate the spine in healthy ways.
Doing this regularly can preserve joint motion and health. The benefits to the nervous system are also well documented.
I’ve written articles outlining some great beginner poses.
YouTube is also a great resource for short yoga routines you can follow along with.
7. Know Your Limits
You know perfectly well that you shouldn’t try to get that new washer down the stairs by yourself.
You also know that your back hurts every time you shovel snow for too long.
A lot of back pain at home can be prevented simply by knowing your limits and honoring them.
Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to do a quick warm-up before beginning any potentially strenuous activity.
That few minutes of preparation can go a long way in preventing spinal injuries.
Prevent Back Pain At Home: A Final Word
Putting these simple tips into practice will definitely help you prevent flair-ups of back pain at home.
Staying conscious of how you’re sitting and bending is the hard part. It’s easy to get lost in the task at hand.
Even so, every little bit helps eliminate pain and maintain mobility for the future