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12 Ways to Prevent Lower Back Pain

Taking steps to prevent lower back pain can help you avoid injuries that can take a long time to heal. Whether a chronic, dull ache or sharp sudden stab, lower back pain negatively affects quality of life.

Here are 12 things you can do that may help prevent lower back pain:

  1. Pay attention when engaging in activities that you don’t do every day, such as yard work or moving furniture. A sudden movement or doing too much when you’re not used to it can create problems for your back. Always stretch before a workout or exercise activities.
  2. Lift an object by standing as close to it as possible, spreading your feet to give you a wide base of support and lifting with your legs while tightening your stomach muscles. Don’t bend at the waist. If the object is too heavy for you, ask for help.
  3. Don’t stand for long periods. If you do stand, line up your ears, shoulders and hips, and hold in your stomach. It’s also helpful to rest one foot on a low stool and switch feet at least every 15 minutes.
  4. Don’t wear high heels. Wear cushioned soles for walking.
  5. Make sure your chair has a straight back with an adjustable seat and back, armrests and a swivel seat when you’re working – especially at a computer. Look for lower back support when selecting a chair. When you turn, move your entire body, don’t just twist at the waist.
  6. When sitting, place a stool under your feet so that your knees are higher than your hips.
  7. Place a small pillow or rolled up towel behind your lower back if you must sit or ride for long periods of time.
  8. Sleep on your side with knees bent. A pillow between your knees may make it more comfortable. If you prefer to sleep on your back, a small pillow under your lower back and under your knees may help prevent lower back pain.
  9. Lose excess weight because it puts a strain on joints and skeletal structure.
  10. Stay active. Find an exercise that you like, such as walking or swimming, and stick with it.
  11. Learn to relax. Find the best technique that works for you, such as taking a walk, learning yoga or getting a massage.
  12. Quit smoking. Smoking may increase the risk of osteoporosis, and it also reduces blood flow to the lower spine, contributing to disc degeneration.

When to See a Doctor

If something happens and you have pain that gets worse or doesn’t improve within two to three weeks, call your doctor. Other reasons to call your doctor include:

  • Intense pain that makes it difficult to move
  • Pain caused by an injury, such as a car accident
  • Difficulty going to the bathroom
  • Nausea, vomiting, fever, chills or weakness
  • Numbness in your groin, rectum, leg or foot
  • Pain that shoots down your leg below your knee

A doctor can help you manage the pain to get better or provide a treatment plan for ongoing pain.

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