Penrose Physical Therapy
Jun 2019
Jennifer Penrose
Jennifer Penrose

Quick question: How many of you have Googled ‘preventing back pain’? I thought so. We’ve all heard and read about what can cause back pain; incorrect lifting, bad posture, sports injury…but did you know that you may be making a common mistake in your daily routine, that might be encouraging back pain? What I’m about to tell you might sound surprising, but hear me out and I’ll explain why it can cause your back pain to worsen, as well as give you some tips on how to change it. Right, here we go…

Bad Diet

I don’t mean like Weight Watchers! That’s a way to manage your weight. However, I am more concerned about the reason you may go to slimming clubs. Being overweight can have a great impact on your health AND your back pain. If you are overweight then you are putting extra pressure on your back. An example of this can be shown where we store sugar. When we eat sugar, any energy that we don’t use from it, is stored on our back. Another place that it can be stored, along with caffeine, is at your lower back, a.k.a your love handles!

If you now think of all that excess weight being carried on your back from sugar and caffeine, is it surprising that a bad diet can lead to back pain? To overcome this issue, try cutting down on the sugar, caffeine and processed foods and choose more natural foods. This could be chicken breasts, potatoes and vegetables. Just remember, any energy you don’t use will be stored as fat and the areas in which you store fat include your biceps, hips and back.

Lack of Exercise 

By lack of exercise I mean, lack of flexibility exercises. Many people will be active by going for long walks, playing sports and going to the gym. Yet how many people actually put time aside to increase their flexibility, or even associate this with exercise? Flexibility exercises always seems to be overlooked but they really shouldn’t be. Stretches before and after exercise can help with flexibility, however it’s main focus is to get rid of the lactic acid you have built up from exercise. If you are someone who is noticing stiffness more frequently after exercises and stretches, then you will really benefit from yoga.

Yoga is a great exercise to add into your daily routine. It may include stretches that you may already be familiar with, however yoga is so much more than a few stretches. Yoga helps you focus on your breathing, making you feel less stressed, can ease tension as the movements relax the muscles and it increases your flexibility. Just because yoga isn’t as intense as a fast-paced game of tennis, does not mean that it’s not an intense workout for your muscles! I recommend all my clients try yoga on a daily basis because of its amazing benefits – and I recommend you give it a try too!

Your Mattress

When you actually think back to when you got your mattress, you’ll be surprised at how old it actually is. But how does an old mattress cause back pain you ask? It’s quite simple really. Although it may have been very supportive in the beginning, overtime the springs can wear and can ultimately not end up giving you the support you need. Think of it like this: You have a brand new shirt that you really like. You wear it day in day out to prove how much you really like it. After the first few washes it looks as good as new. However, after a while you notice that the more you wear it, the more the colors fade, the more the stitching comes apart, until ultimately, you need a new shirt. Your mattress is the same.

What to do if you cannot get a new one

If you can’t go out and buy a new one (because lets be honest, not many of us can), then another way to get great support is by the use of your pillows. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs for extra support. This will help your hip joints as well as your lower back. Or, if you prefer to sleep on your back, get a pillow or two and pop them under your feet. This changes the way your spine is positioned when you sleep, providing more support. There you have it, the three things that cause back pain that you didn’t know – until now!

Please don’t make the same mistake that so many other people make and implement these changes into your daily routine today! That’s all from me this week, I’ll be back again next week, until then, have a great week!

P.S. If you want to hear more healthy tips from Dr. Penrose, tune into her monthly podcast “Stay Healthy South Sound” on iTunes, Google Play or Spotify.

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To listen on iTunes and other Apple devices:

To read last week’s blog post on back pain, click HERE

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