Whether it’s from an old injury, working in the garden, or lifting something incorrectly, we’ve all experienced back pain and we all know how unbearable it can be. Studies show that eight out of ten people experience back pain at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Health.Seniors are especially susceptible to back pain. The wear and tear that goes along with aging can cause chronic back pain. Luckily, there are ways you can help prevent back injuries.
Read our tips below to learn how to prevent and relieve back pain.
- Start your day with a stretch. While you’re still in bed, lay on your back and lift your arms above your head. Imagine your spine stretching and elongating. Then, pull your knees up to your chest one at a time, feeling the stretch in your lower back. Now you can go make that coffee!
- Stand up tall. Good posture is one of the best ways to prevent back injury and pain. Unfortunately, most of us are slouchers. When you’re watching TV or typing at the computer, remember to sit up straight with your shoulders back and your spine straight (not too arched). Pull your belly button into your spine and breathe deeply.
- Lift correctly. How many of us have thrown our our backs lifting a heavy box or suitcase? Never bend over at the waist to pick up something. Always keep your back straight and bend your knees when lifting something to ensure your legs, not your back, are doing the work.
- Ask for help. If you’re worried a load is too heavy for you to lift, ask a friend, neighbor, or home caregiver to give you a hand. Taking a few extra minutes to get help can save you a week of pain later!
- Re-evaluate your mattress. Mattresses lose much of their firmness over time. If your mattress no longer gives you the back support you need at night, it can cause back pain during the day. Check your mattress for sagging and evenness. If it’s time to replace it, do so. Your mattress should be of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
- Check your health. Your health habits can contribute to your back health. Smoking decreases blood flow to your back, and can weaken your discs. Extra weight in your belly can put a lot of strain on your back. Keeping healthy will help prevent back injury and chronic pain.
- Get moving. Exercise helps strengthen and stretch muscles, keeping your back and optimal shape and helping to prevent injury. Walking is a great, low-impact way for seniors to get exercise. Make a daily walk part of your routine.
- Switch your shoes. The shoes we wear can directly affect our back muscles. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes to give your back the support it needs.
- Treat your back right. If you do strain your back, ice it with an ice pack wrapped in a towel for 10 minutes out of each hour until the swelling goes down and pain lessens. Once the pain is relieved, use a warm compress on the affected area to increase blood flow and relax your muscles. Apply a warm, damp towel to the area for 10 minutes every hour.
- Talk to your doctor. If you’re struggling with chronic back pain, certain stretches and exercise can help get you back to tip-top condition. Talk to your physician to find out which exercises are right for you.
Back pain can be both debilitating and frustrating for everyone, but it is especially so for seniors.
What are some of the ways you’ve dealt with back pain in the past? Let us know what worked for you in the comments!