Back Pain

29 September 2016

5 common reasons why you may have a bad back

Sometimes its the simplest things that may be causing us the biggest discomfort like these common ways of hurting your back


We've identified extremely common ways by which we could be hurting our backs on a daily basis but that we might be completely unaware of. 

You’re a screen queen/king

Many people spend up to nine hours a day slouching in front of a PC, while others spend almost as long hunched over tablets and smartphones.

Sitting in the best possible position is probably the last thing we think of when we have huge work deadlines, and thus regular stretching exercises also go out the window allowing for your muscles of the back to weaken and inactive joints lose lubrication and subsequently age more quickly.

A study conducted by Temple University found that the increased amount of time people spend on their latest technological obsessions is a leading cause of shoulder and back aches and pains.

Read: Back surgery not always the answer

Don’t sleep on your tummy

Constant tossing and turning in bed may have dire consequences on your joints and muscles, and experts suggest that sleeping on your side or back keeps your spine elongated and neutral. If you need to snooze on your tummy for a bit, place a pillow under your hips to alleviate pressure on disks, ligaments and muscles.

When choosing your mattress, ensure that you choose from the manufacturer’s medium range. A study in The Lancet found that people who have chosen a medium mattress showed fewer signs of back issues three months after purchasing their mattresses. Follow Goldilocks’ advice: don’t have a bed that’s too hard or too soft, but rather just right.

You may have ‘fashion back’

Ladies, as much as stilettos are stylish, they are taxing on your back, but at the same time it doesn’t have all function and no flair. Megan Tabor, a chiropractor at Brigham and Women's Hospital recommends alternating one’s shoes. When walking to the bus stop, wear shock-resistant sneakers, and, when you’re in the office get into something more stylish. 

Gentlemen, since slipping into stilettos aren’t as common, it’s been found that wearing flip flops can be as bad for your back. Sandals and flip flops provide very little to no arch at all for continuous support, which can lead to back, knee and foot problems says Dr David S. Wolf, DPM, a podiatrist and professor of nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston.

Toss the smokes

As it turns out, smoking is not only bad for your heart and lungs but also for your back. According to a study published on there’s a strong link smoking and lower back pain.  says the effects of smoking are many: Nicotine restricts blood flow to vertebrae and disks, so they may age and break down more quickly. It may also interfere with the body's ability to absorb and use calcium, leading to osteoporosis-related bone and back problems.

Read: Exercise may reduce back pain

Poor bending

What’s very common yet at the same time so uncommon is that improper bending and lifting causes back injury; that's all there is to it.

Dan McMackin, a spokesman for UPS recommends a few ways that could eliminate this concern for you:

  • Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Don't bend at your waist.
  • Keep the object close to you. The farther away you hold it from your body, the more it stresses your back.
  • Never hold an item higher than your armpit or lower than your knees.
  • Don't move something that weighs more than 20% of your body weight.
  • Don't pivot, twist, or turn while lifting. Point your feet at the item you're lifting and face it as you pick it up. Change direction with your feet, not your waist.

Read more:

High heels and high-tech devices threaten good posture

Position is key when sex causes back pain

Electrical stimulation may ease lower back pain


Ask the Expert

Backache expert

Susan qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1990, and completed her master’s degree in Physiotherapy in 2013 at the University of Pretoria. She has a special interest in human biomechanics, as well as the interaction between domestic and work-related ergonomics.

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