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7 culprits that might be secretly causing you back pain

Posted May 31

With achy muscles or sharp pain in your back, your days are miserable. If you are reading this article, you're most likely part of the 80 percent who suffer from back pain and can't live life fully because of your pain.

For everyone looking for relief it may be helpful to know your back pain might be caused by one of these seven culprits:

1. You’re eating the wrong things

Dr. Todd Sinett, chiropractor and author of 3 Weeks to a Better Back, says that dietary habits can cause back pain. The major three dietary culprits are caffeine, alcohol and sugar. These all increase your body’s cortisol levels, which makes connective tissues inflamed. So if you want your back pain to go away, try excluding alcoholic drinks, coffee and tea, sweetened drinks and anything else with added sugars.

2. You were in a car accident

Physical therapist Dr. Howard Knudsen told FamilyShare that the forces created by stopping abruptly in a car crash can strain your back, causing your muscles to be weak and cause you pain. "Because of this your back muscles are vulnerable to additional repetitive strain and injury, just from normal daily activities," Dr. Knudsen said. If you don't get treatment immediately after a car accident, your back muscles can remain in this weakened state for months following the incident. Resting and icing your back can help, and if your pain is severe you can consider visiting a physical therapist.

3. You wear high heels

Your body will attempt to compensate for the off-kilter balance heels cause by bending the hips forward, which causes an unnatural, straining curve in the spine, according to Spine Health Institute. At the end of a day wearing heels, your back muscles (especially your lower back muscles) have been tensed up for so long that they experience excess muscle fatigue and strain.

On the other hand, flat-heeled shoes allow the spine to rest in a natural and slightly S-curve shape, reducing stress on the vertebrae. If you wear heels on a regular basis, you might want to consider switching out your stilettos for some flats to help combat your pain.

4. High school sports have come back to haunt you

If you played a sport in your younger years, you might be having back pain as a result. When things got rough while scrambling for a rebound or in the middle of bone-bending wrestling match, these strenuous situations can have long-lasting health effects on your back.

If you notice the postures and positions required for just about any high school sport, you’ll see a common pattern of excessive twisting, repeated forward bending and high velocity back bending, according to Center for Spine and Orthopedics. Just as for car accident victims, icing the area can help, but visiting a physical therapist or chiropractor might be the best way to manage severe pain.

5. You have poor posture

Poor posture, like slouching, can cause pain by constricting your blood vessels and nerves, according to Spine-health. Problems with muscles, discs and joints are also a result of bad posture. But don’t worry — there are simple ways to keep that back nice and straight. Sit better by keeping your back flush against your chair and your head level with your spine. Walk better by not drooping your shoulders and make sure to land on your heel before gently rolling forward to push off the front of your foot.

6. You’re lifting the wrong way

Whether you’re lifting weights at the gym or boxes in your house, it’s important to use proper technique to avoid damaging and straining your back muscles. Follow these tips from Healthwise Staff (via WebMD) and lift heavy objects from the ground with ease:

  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only
  • Keep good posture by straightening your back and keeping your shoulders back.
  • Slowly lift by straightening your hips and knees (not your back).
7. You sit too much

You probably spend the bulk of your day sitting down. According to Dr. Mercola, sitting actually puts more pressure on your spine than standing. Your back's disks are compressed when sitting, which means excessive sitting can cause a loss of flexibility and increase your risk of herniated disks.

To help, stand up more whenever you can. Sit-to-stand desks are a great option for employees who sit all day in front of a computer. Substituting standing activities (like taking a walk) for sitting activities (like watching TV) can lead to a less painful back.

Do any of these back pain culprits sound like a possible reason for the pain you’re experiencing? If so, don’t worry! There are easy fixes to each one of these problems. A less painful life could be as simple as throwing out a pair of high heeled shoes or readjusting your lifting position.

McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at mpark@deseretdigital.com.

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