Most of us will suffer one or more episodes of back pain during our lives. But while we all know about common causes like bending awkwardly or lifting something heavy, there are other possible reasons why you could be suffering…
1. Your smartphone or computer
Humans were designed to be upright – so it’s no wonder that being hunched over a smartphone, tablet or laptop is making our bodies uncomfortable. Bending your head at this unnatural angle puts pressure on the spine – so be mindful of your ‘smartphone posture’ and try these exercises to improve it.
2. Your shoes
It’s not just high heels that cause extra stress and strain on your lower back – backless flat shoes like flip-flops also put pressure on your spine and joints. Wear a shoe that firmly holds your foot in place and gives it arch support – and stick to heels that aren’t sky-high.
3. Your shoulder bag
Whether it’s an oversized handbag or a laptop bag that’s the culprit, be careful about carrying a heavy bag over one shoulder as this will throw your spine out of balance. Perform a handbag contents audit before heading out of the house: do you really need to haul all that stuff around with you all day?
4. Your sofa
In a recent survey by pain patch brand Salonpas, one-fifth of Britons said that their soft sofas had given them lower back ache and shoulder pain. So while your soft couch might be super-comfy, it’s probably leading you to slouch rather than sit in a position that’s supportive to your spine. Check your posture when you’re on your sofa – and try to break up your time so you’re not sitting on it for hours at a stretch.
5. Your bra
An ill-fitting bra means you’re not getting support at the front, where you need it - which in turn can lead you to hunch or round your shoulders and can cause back and neck pain. Get yourself properly fitted for a bra to make sure it’s giving you the support you need.
Smoking isn’t just bad for your lungs, heart, stomach and brain. It also weakens your back because it reduces the flow of oxygen to your muscles. A recent study found that chronic smokers were three times more likely to develop chronic back pain… so if you needed another reason to quit, you may have just found it.
7. Stress or anxiety
The back is a common area for your body to ‘hold’ your stress or anxiety – so what you’re feeling as physical symptoms could have mental or emotional causes. As well as looking after yourself physically – such as paying attention to your posture, getting enough exercise and eating healthily – also consider addressing the factors which could be causing you to be feeling stressed, anxious or depressed.