Back pain is a huge issue. It is the second most common reason for a doctor’s visit after the common cold. Close to fifty percent of long-term disability is due to back pain. And at least 8 out of 10 of us will have one back pain episode in our life.
Dr. Vijay Vad, Sports Medicine Specialist and Physiatrist, offers a few simple tips to avoid back pain:
1. Excessive sitting is the biggest reason for explosion in back pain. So if you have a desk job, try to get up every thirty minutes and stretch as a gift to your spine.
2. There are supplements with some clinical data on back pain- mainly fish oil and vitamin D. I recommend 2000 mg of fish oil from a reputable manufacturer and 1000 units of vitamin D daily for good back health.
3. Back pain is a big mind-body problem. The more stressed out you are, the more chances that you will cause back pain or exacerbate existing back pain. Deep breathing works great for stress reduction. Also exercise has a big impact.
4. Exercise therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on back pain including preventing recurrence. This was also shown in Back Rx exercise clinical trial conducted at HSS. Besides stress reduction, exercise helps maintain a strong core. Simply walking 30 minutes daily is one of the best things that you can do for your back and your general health. I am a big believer that walking 30 minutes a day can keep the doctor away.
5. With summer upon us, ease into sports. Your body is ‘sports deconditioned’ and thus risk of injuring your back increases if you suddenly get too active. So don’t play three rounds of golf on your first outing. Ease into it. Use a stool for gardening to reduce excessive bending and pressure on the disc to avoid injuring your back.
Dr. Vijay Vad is a physiatrist at Hospital for Special Surgery. He is also the author of the books,Back Rx, Arthritis Rx and Golf Rx, published by Penguin Books.