9 Simple Tips To Prevent Back Injury As You Age
The number of back injuries and people suffering from back pain in this country is significant.
Believe it or not, 65 million people suffer from back pain each year. Back injuries and chronic pain keep people away from their jobs and cost health insurance systems billions of dollars annually. It's really quite a problem. Fortunately, there are time-tested things you can do to prevent back injury.
You might guess that staying active is one of the items on the list. But there are other things you might not think of, too. Here are 9 simple tips for back injury prevention.
1. Strength Train
The old saying "the best offense is a good defense" applies to back pain prevention. By developing strong lower and upper back muscles, your body will become less susceptible to injuries now and as you age.
In fact, you should train your whole core to develop rounded muscular in your midsection. The erector spine, abdominals, obliques, glutes, hips, and lats are all muscles that will help keep your back strong.
Good exercises you can do include rows, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, and chin-ups. These can all be modified of course to meet any fitness level. And in the case of deadlifts and RDLS, be sure to start light and practice proper technique first.
Stretching helps mobilize the joints in your hips and back. As you age, you naturally lose flexibility. Doing some mobility training on a regular basis is a good preventative measure for preventing back injuries.
Flexibility training is also a good way to prevent injuries while you exercise. Do a light bit of ballistic and static stretching on your major muscles (hips, hamstrings, shoulders, and glutes) before starting to prevent muscle tweaks.
3. Do Cardio Exercise
Aerobic exercises like running, rowing, swimming, and biking are all surprisingly good ways to prevent back injury.
Cardio helps increase blood flow. This loosens up your muscles and increases your core body temperature, making it easier to move your joints through their full range of motion.
If you're already suffering from back pain, try adding a little light cardio into your routine a few times per week.
4. Minimize Jerking Motions
Whether you're interested in preventing back injuries in the workplace or just for your own personal sake, considering the type of movements you do will help.
Jerking, twisting, or explosive movements have a tendency to lead to tweaks or strains. Your back, being a complicated place full of muscles, joints, and ligaments, can take a while to heal from even small injuries.
Try to increase your movement quality and take any problem movements out of your routine. Always lift with your legs when you pick heavy things up and ask for help if something appears to be too heavy.
5. Stay Hydrated
It might sound surprising that drinking water can help prevent back injuries. But your spinal cord discs, which help absorb shock and reduce wear and tear on your spine, need lots of water.
When we're dehydrated, these discs become more brittle and inflexible. This can lead to injuries from even basic movements if we aren't careful. Aim for 8 glasses of water per day and more if you're exercising.
6. See a Chiropractor
Do you know what happens when you crack your back? Well, when a professional does it, the answer is "good things."
Seeing a chiropractor can be useful as part of a back injury prevention program or if you're already dealing with symptoms. Their ability to manipulate the joint can help alleviate tension and pain.
Some chiropractors also practice other forms of movement-based medicine. For example, they might be able to work some trigger point therapy massage into the tightest areas of your back. Loosening these up can also help tension or help you recover from an injury.
7. Sit Correctly
Here's another shocking statistic for you: the average American sits for six and a half hours per day.
Sitting with good posture isn't really a problem. But if you slouch or recline in a position that compromises your spine, it could easily lead to an injury or severe tightness in your back.
When sitting, if you have to, pull your shoulders back and sit upright. Keep your feet flat on the floor and pull your elbows to your side. And if you sit a lot for work, buy a standing desk if you can.
8. Breathe Properly
Proper breathing can actually reduce the possibility of back injuries, too. By practicing diaphragmatic breathing—where you breathe in through the nose and deep into your belly—helps keep your spine in proper alignment.
It also activates the small muscles in your pelvis, also known as the pelvic floor. When these muscles are activated, you are less susceptible to lower back tweaks or injuries.
Try taking a few of these breaths now. Not only is it good for reducing back injuries, but it's also quite calming!
9. Sleep In Optimal Positions
If you have lower back pain or are trying to prevent it, there are a few optimal positions that can help:
- Sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees
- Sleeping on your side
It's been shown that these two positions put the least amount of resistance on the lower back. Your spine and back muscles are able to relax and recover when you sleep, not work overtime!
How to Prevent Back Injury
Want to prevent back injury and keep from being one of the staggering numbers of Americans dealing with lower back pain? It's all about living a healthy lifestyle and maintenance.
Many injuries are the result of sedentary behavior or spending too much time in compromising positions that could damage the spine or surrounding muscles. Try adjusting your daily routine and adjusting your posture and you'll be well on your well!
For more health and wellness resources, check out the rest of our blog!