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5 Common Back Pain Causes and Their Simple Solutions

sleeping position diagram: sleeping on back with pillow under knees, sleeping on side with pillow between knees, and sleeping on stomach with pillow under abdomen

Back pain affects millions of Americans and they can be from a variety of causes. Some of the solutions are simple and some are more complicated. It really depends on how early you catch it and how you actively participate in treating it. Ask yourself these day-to-day health and habit questions to see what may be affecting your back.

1. Shoes that Support Looks, not Feet

Trendy shoes may look great, but how practical are they for your back? High heels don’t support the arch of your foot, and neither do flats! Buying a pair of shoes that fit you appropriately and support your arch, and wearing them often is key to taking care of your feet, knees, and back. A pair of slip-ons may be fun, but it’s big, bulky tennis shoes that support your feet while cushioning your knees and lower back. Check out different styles of orthopedic shoes to find a pair with form and function. 

2. Sitting for a Living

In this day and age, it is very common for people to commute for up to 80 minutes a day and sit for long periods of time at work. You may be slouching at work without realizing it, which leads to poor posture. In addition, the lack of movement over long periods of time prevents your spine from receiving proper nutrition. Prolonged sitting in the workplace puts strain on your muscles and spine, so try to get up and move around at least once an hour. You may also be interested in alternative desk setups. Standing desks encourage people to stand up straight and shuffle around while working, while replacing the chair with an exercise ball reminds people to keep moving. 

3. Sleeping Positions

If you’re a member of the 16% who sleep on their stomach, it’s time to make a change. Sleeping on your stomach leads to two major problems. #1: The neck is pushed into an irregular angle for hours at a time. #2: The natural curve of the back is not supported by stomach sleeping. The most popular sleeping position, on the side, only has a slight problem: the hips are not aligned properly. This can be easily fixed by holding a pillow between your knees. For the healthiest sleep, experts agree the best sleeping position is on your back on a semi-firm mattress and a pillow that elevates your head just enough to support your neck.

4. Neglecting the Full Body Workout

Gyms are full of all sorts of equipment. Some exercises are meant to keep your arms or legs strong, but others are meant for your core. Ignoring your abs, back, and hip muscles can be a mistake and lead to recurring back pain. So while you do curls or hop on your treadmill, don’t forget how important your core muscles are! Try a full body workout such as yoga, guided weight-lifting or aerobics, martial arts, or dance. 

5. Smoking

We all know that smoking is bad for the lungs. But did you know it’s also bad for the back? Chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow to the vertebrae and discs which may cause them to deteriorate and break easily. The path may not be as easy as wearing comfortable shoes or trying a new sleeping position, but it’s never too late to quit. 

These are 5 simple causes and solutions to back pain. But if you’re still having problems, I recommend getting checked out at AFC Physical Medicine & Chiropractic Centers. Schedule an appointment online or visit one of our 7 Arizona locations. The sooner, the better. The great news is that back pain responds very quickly when you take a comprehensive approach like what we do here at AFC.