WCBS-TV—New York—November 3, 2008
Back pain ranks third -- after high blood pressure and diabetes -- as the condition that sends Americans to the doctor's office.
While medical expertise is often warranted, there are some easy steps to stop the pain before it strikes.
Motherhood is taking its toll on Jaime Edelstein's back.
"Always holding her on my hip and pushing the stroller," Edelstein explained.
Eight out of 10 people suffer from back pain at some point, but there are some simple tricks to keep it at bay.
First, broccoli gives back pain a 1-2 punch.
"It's an anti-inflammatory, and the other component is that is has a lot of vitamin D in it," said Dr. Jennifer L. Solomon of Hospital for Special Surgery.
That keeps bones strong and prevents back injuries.
Second, lighten your load.
There's no need to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. If your handbag tilts the scales at more than 10 percent of your weight, it's too heavy.
"Get rid of whatever you don't need to carry. If it's not essential, take it out of the bag," Dr. Solomon said.
Third, go for good posture. It isn't easy, but it's crucial.
"I'm one of the worst slouchers I know," Edelstein said. "For me it's very conscious, you know. If I wasn't standing here talking with you, I would probably be in this sort of a position."
If you're at a desk all day for work, try using a stability ball as your chair. It works wonders for your alignment.
Fourth, sleep right.
A recent study says a harder bed may not be better for your back. Positioning is most important.
"People are most comfortable sleeping on their back with a pillow underneath their legs or sleeping on their sides with a pillow snugged into their chest to keep it in a neutral position," Dr. Solomon said.
Fifth, tighten those abs.
By tightening your abdominal core you bolster your back. Squeeze your stomach muscles as hard as you can.
"Activating your abdominal muscles, your glute muscles or your back muscles -- everything that you do to help stabilize that area, which people call the core -- helps take the pressure off the spine," Dr. Solomon said.
If you're having more intense back pain than usual, strenuous exercise should be avoided. But make sure not to stay in bed either. Not moving around for one or two days can weaken your muscles and make the problem worse.
View the story at WCBSTV.com.