Back pain is annoying, frustrating, and, well, painful. If you suffer from it you're far from alone.
More than 40 million U.S. workers have low back pain, according to a report from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, and it can impact your career. Low back pain is the reason that between 6 and 10 percent of workers change jobs or stop working.
If you have back pain, talk with your medical care provider to find the best way to ease it. To lower the risk for developing back pain, take preventive measures:
Get moving. If you're seated for most of the day, get up every 30 minutes or so. It gives your muscles an opportunity to grow stronger, and is good for posture, as well as overall health. Take a brief walk or try some gentle stretches.
Don't slouch. When you're engrossed in a project, you may not realize you're slouching or hunched over at your desk. Be aware of your posture when sitting and standing, and aim to sit and stand correctly.
Be smart about lifting. When something needs to be moved, see if there is a lifting device that can be used. If you need to lift or carry a heavy object, make sure you use the proper technique.
Look at your feet. High heels and flat shoes that lack arch support can strain your back. Look for shoes with proper arch support that don't throw your back out of alignment.
Don't smoke. People who smoke are at a higher risk for back pain. Smoking can cause the disks in the back to degenerate and also increases the risk for osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about quitting or check out online resources that can help you kick the habit.
Take care of yourself. Choose healthy foods containing calcium and vitamin D, which help keep your spine strong. Watch your weight, as being overweight puts extra stress on the back. In addition, take steps to support your mental health. Stress and depression can make back pain worse.
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