Be mindful of the way you move, even during everyday activities such as loading the washing machine or taking out the garbage, advises Dr Shreedhar Archik, senior consultant, orthopaedics and joint replacement at Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.
In the last two years, owing to the pandemic, orthopedic experts have seen a very high rise in the cases of lower back pain among women and working professionals.
This is mainly attributed to the work from home culture.
In metros like Mumbai the standard house size is small and the data connectivity can be bad.
We routinely saw a family of four huddled in a single room, parents on their laptops and 2 children attending online school at the same time.
Naturally, their postures and sitting habits went for a toss. Add to that the absence of maids and house help to delegate house chores.
An executive who was used to sitting on the chair for 10 hours was suddenly mopping floors!
Those who were keen to remain fit started watching YouTube and did exercises which were not suitable for them and came to us with back pain.
Now if you are prone to backaches, you know how frustrating and painful the experience can be.
Back pain can prevent you from engaging in activities you enjoy and also to miss work.
It can keep you awake at night and adversely affect your mood and productivity.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit orthopedics even at an early age.
If you are young and lead a sedentary lifestyle, here are a few tips to protect your back:
1. Watch your posture
Always pay attention to your posture and movements.
Do not slouch when you are sitting or standing.
Be mindful of the way you move, even during everyday activities such as loading the washing machine or taking out the garbage.
If you must stand for a prolonged period, keep your head up and your stomach pulled in.
If possible, rest one foot on a stool or box about 6 inches high -- and switch feet every 5 to 15 minutes.
2. Maintain/lose extra weight
If you have recently gained weight, it could be a major reason why you are experiencing back pain.
Check your weight and ensure that you maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle.
Like every muscle and bone in the body, you also need to exercise regularly to strengthen your spine.
Try yoga. Work on your abdominal muscles, which can help support the back.
4. Be careful while you bend/lift stuff
When lifting heavy packages, always bend your knees and keep your back straight.
Keep the object close to your body and avoid twisting at the waist.
If you also have knee problems, you may want to avoid lifting heavy packages altogether or take help.
5. Take breaks to stretch and walk
If your work involves long hours of sitting at the desk, take breaks to get up, take a walk or stretch occasionally.
Get a chair with good lumber support and make sure it is the right height.
A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of the back can also provide support.
Standing desks, a new concept is also found to be beneficial for working professionals.
6. Don't drive for long hours
If you have to commute a lot, remember not to drive for long hours.
Similarly, when you are going on a long drive, take breaks every few hours so you’re not sitting in the same position and exerting your spine.
7. Be mindful of exercises/activities
Be wary of exercises and workout routines you find online. If they’re not geared towards your particular problem, they can make the pain worse.
Always consult a doctor before you engage into any kind of exercise.
8. Watch your footwear
The wrong footwear can also cause your back to hurt.
Wearing shoes or footwear with less cushion/padding for long hours can hurt your soles and ligaments.
Avoid high heels. They can shift your centre of gravity and strain your lower back.
Stick to a one-inch heel. If you have to go higher, bring along a pair of low-heeled shoes and slip into them when you feel uncomfortable.
9. Avoid tight clothing
Stash the skinny jeans. Tight and skin-fitting clothing interferes with bending, sitting, or walking thereby aggravating your back pain.
Wear loose or comfort-fitting clothes that allow your skin to breathe and move freely.
10. Lighten your wallet
Sitting on an overstuffed wallet may also cause discomfort and back pain.
If you are going to be sitting for a prolonged period -- while driving, for example, take your wallet out of your back pocket.
11. Be careful how you sleep
The posture in which you sleep really matters.
Your back should be well rested and so should your neck and shoulders.
You must get 6 to 8 hours of comfortable sleep.
If you are prone to back pain, talk to your doctor about the best sleeping position.
Sleeping on your side with your knees pulled up slightly toward your chest is sometimes suggested.
Invest in a good quality mattress and pillow to improve the quality of your sleep.