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5 Things You Can Do Now to Prevent Back Pain Later

They may not put it so lightly, but people with chronic back pain will tell you it’s not a fun situation. Chronic or even occasional back pain can be an energy zapper and affect almost every aspect of day-to-day life.

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Those without back pain should consider themselves lucky, but it doesn’t take luck to prevent back pain down the road. Here are five things you can do right now that will help you prevent back pain in the future:

1. Perfect Your Posture

You’ve probably heard a variation of these things from your parents: “Stand up straight!” or “Don’t slouch!” As annoying as it may have been, they were right. While your parents may not have been telling you those things to help you prevent back pain when you got older, that’s exactly what having solid posture can do.

Posture comes into play when both sitting and standing. For example, if you happen to work at a desk for most of the day, try adjusting your chair or using a foot stool so your feet are at rest with your knees just slightly lower than your hips. Try to keep your back straight, and even use a small pillow for lower back support.

While standing, take your mother’s advice and try not to slouch. It can be hard to get used to if you’ve had poor posture for years, but think about trying to keep your weight distributed evenly across both legs and feet. It may take time, but perfecting your posture is a healthy habit to get into.

2. Get Some Sleep

Lack of sleep can contribute to all sorts of medical issues, and back pain is no different. In fact, 66 percent of people with chronic back pain also have a sleeping disorder.

It helps to set up a routine before you go to sleep. Whether it’s taking a bath or shower at a certain time each night, setting up and adjusting a fan to block out noise or simply making sure you go to bed at the same time every night, such patterns can help train your body and brain to get ready for sleep.

Also, try to go to bed when you’re tired. If you lay in bed for more than 30 minutes without falling asleep, it could lead to higher stress levels.

Of course, sleeping well and back pain can be a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. Those with back pain know that it can be extremely hard to get a good night’s sleep. Still, setting up a nighttime routine can help your body get ready for a night of rest — even if your back doesn’t want to cooperate.

3. Exercise, but Do It Right

There’s no doubt that getting in some good exercise will help potential back pain in the long run. Strengthening muscles in your back, stomach and legs will only benefit you over the years and help limit the potential of back issues.

There are certain exercises that are best to avoid, however, particularly if back pain has already started to creep in. One such exercise is standing toe touches — the motion could put greater stress on your discs and ligaments in the spine and potentially overstretch hamstrings and lower back muscles.

Also, doing old-fashioned sit-ups in which you lay down and sit all the way up is another move that could put too much stress on the discs in your spine. Partial crunches, though, are a great way to build abdominal muscles without putting unnecessary strain on your back.

4. Give Yoga a Try

If you haven’t tried yoga, it can be a bit intimidating to get into. You don’t know the terminology, and your balance may not be the best. It also may be hard to make it through an entire yoga class or routine the first time around.

If you can, try to get over your trepidations and give it a whirl — researchers have said yoga can ease lower-back pain faster than most other conventional exercises. It also has a number of other benefits, including helping you learn breathing techniques, relax and improve strength and flexibility.

Yoga is more and more common these days, with classes available at most gyms or health clubs, in addition to specialized studios.

5. Quit (or Don’t Start) Smoking

You know all the reasons smoking is bad for you, including the increased risk of lung disease or cancer as well as its negative effects on your teeth and skin. However, there’s a reason that smokers experience back pain more often than non-smokers.

One of the effects of smoking is it accelerates the aging process, which in turn can accelerate the rate of degenerative disc disease in your spine. Kicking your smoking habit is not easy, of course, but it’s a must if you’re serious about preventing future back problems.

There are of course more measures you can take to prevent back pain, but working these five into your lifestyle will give you a solid foundation for a pain-free life, regardless of your age.

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