5 Everyday Mistakes That Cause Back Pain

According to the American Chiropractic Association, nearly half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. If you're one of them, some of the little things you do every day could be causing your symptoms.

Here are five common mistakes and practical fixes:

1. Sleeping on a bad mattress. Lumpy, bumpy, soft and sagging mattresses make your body bend in unnatural, uncomfortable ways. Your spine, ribs and chest work double-time supporting your spine to accommodate these unnatural bends. Muscles that should be resting stay on-the-job to protect your misaligned bones. The result? Fatigue and back pain.

If your mattress is more than ten years old, it's time to go shopping. Different people have different preferences for hard versus soft mattresses. Try a few before you buy and make sure you can return it if it doesn't suit your back.

2. The phone-to-shoulder maneuver. Everybody does it. You're at your desk or in the kitchen and you need an extra hand.  Pressing your phone to your shoulder is tough on your neck, especially if done frequently. It distorts the alignment of your spine and irritates the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your neck, upper back and shoulders.

Buy an earpiece, headpiece or use the speakerphone function and keep your shoulders and neck in proper alignment.

3. Lugging a purse or backpack. Your purse or backpack may be the source of your back pain, especially if you're hefting several more pounds on one side of your body than the other or carrying too much weight on your back. 

Heavy purses pull your shoulders and neck out of alignment. This is fine for a short period of time (as long as it's not too heavy), but when it goes on too long or too often, it can cause serious alignment issues all the way down your back.  Backpacks tend to be a little more kind to the spine, but not when they weigh too much.

  • Clean out your purse.
  • Offload the stuff you really don't need to carry.
  • Carry a smaller bag.
  • Buy duplicate makeup, toiletries and supplies for home and office.
  • If you must pack books, notes and other heavy materials, consider a rolling bag.

4. Lack of exercise. Your spine needs movement to stay healthy.When you exercise, the synovial fluid that surrounds the joints in your spine circulates and helps it move smoothly. A sedentary lifestyle causes it to stiffen and move poorly.

Exercise also helps keep the weight off and muscles strong. Obesity and poor muscle tone are among the top contributors to back pain.

Exercise for at least 30 minutes most days. If your job keeps you sitting for long periods of time, make a point of getting up, walking around and stretching for a few minutes every hour.

5. Poor work conditions. If you work at a computer or desk, your workstation might be contributing to your back pain.  Office chairs, computer screens, keyboards and office equipment should be positioned to support your arms and back while putting the least amount of strain on your head and neck. 

Do some research on ergonomically correct workstations and decrease your body's workload.