You are probably hurting your back right now.
Roughly 80% of everyone will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
In fact, CDC surveys reveal that roughly 30% of American adults have experienced lower back pain in the last 3 months.
And the worst part? It’s estimated that roughly 80% of back pain is preventable.
What does this mean?
It means this: you are probably doing stuff everyday that is slowly — and possibly irreversibly — damaging your back.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are 10 of the most common causes of back pain and how people harm their backs in their daily lives.
Disclaimer: we are well aware that some of the videos linked here are not flashy. But, it’s the content and expertise that matters; not whether or not they have a green room background or super models showing you what to do.
#1: Terrible Office Chairs
Sitting in an office chair for 20 seconds at Office Depot doesn’t mean you’ve found one that is good for your back. Good office chairs have strong lumbar support for your lower back.
Wondering what are the best options? We’ve scoured the internet and listed them for you here.
You should also consider getting a large external monitor for your office computer. It’s way better and cheaper to buy something like this nice Dell 27 LED backlit LCD Monitor instead of ruining your posture for 8 hours everyday.
Who wants to hunch over a small, lowly placed laptop screen anyways?
#2: Bad Posture
It may feel good to slouch but it can progressively damage your spinal discs.
Here’s some solid info to get you started on not looking like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
Spend 10 mins learning this and you might save yourself 10 years of back pain.
#3: Soft Mattresses
Sure, it feels great to collapse onto a bed at the mattress store in the mall after you’ve walked around the food court for 2 hours. But, again, that’s not how you should pick a mattress.
Unless you have spinal stenosis (typically only occurring in people of ages 60+), a good mattress isn’t about memory foam or anything like that. A good mattress is essentially the firmest mattress you can tolerate.
So, don’t get something cushy like a Tempurpedic (even if you get the firm options, they typically still sink over time).
Instead, pick a firm mattress like this highly rated mattress from Brooklyn Bedding. Or go with a Sleep Number mattress and work your way up to a super firm mattress by adjusting the firmness by 5 points every week.
Just make sure that you buy the Sleep Number mattress with the least amount of built-in foam (we recommend the C2 model, which is also highly recommended by Consumer Reports).
#4: Ill-equipped or Fitted Cars
This really isn’t about the type of car. It’s really about where your legs are in relationship to your hips when you sit in your vehicle.
This means that most sedans are going to be hard on anyone taller than roughly 5’2.
You should drive a car where you can sit with your knees at the same level or slightly lower than your hips.
So, this typically means that seat height relative to the floor is on the higher end. Plus, the part of the seat that meets the backrest isn’t lower than the front edge of the seat.
A good example of this is the Kia Soul. Although it’s priced like a sedan, the vehicle has an above-average seat-to-floor distance which alleviates pressure on your back. Vans are also common examples of good seat-to-floor height.
But, making a car decision based upon your back is tough. So, if you can’t switch whips, it’s probably a good idea to grab a lumbar support or wedge for your car.
And, by the way, manual transmissions are tons of fun but they also can aggravate SI joint issues.
#5: Household Activities
Make sure that you are always picking things up correctly around the house and try to have your washer/dryer both be elevated + the doors open to the side.
Get extensions for your handheld vacuums.
Don’t sit on the floor when playing board games or wrapping Christmas gifts. And try to avoid extended periods of bending over a table to do things like jigsaw puzzles. It ain’t worth it.
Besides the fact that smoking can viciously kill you and cause sexual dysfunction, you should also avoid smoking because it literally degenerates the discs in your back.
And this degeneration is often permanent.
#7: Recliners and Couches
Couches and recliner chairs rock. But, prolonged sitting on a couch without lumbar support can cause debilitating back pain over time.
Laying on your side and propping yourself up on one elbow for extended periods can also be equally or more damaging since your spinal discs typically bulge and rupture to the right or the left.
Side note: do you really think that our backs were designed for 3 hours of Netflix everyday?
#8: Not Exercising
Studies show that not exercising regularly (think 3-4 times per week) can cause serious deficiencies in your core muscles which destabilize your whole spinal column and put you at risk for untold back misery.
What’s the best form of exercise that isn’t hard on your back and that you’ll pretty much be able to do no matter how many surgeries you’ve had?
#9: Incorrect Exercises
Common sit-ups and crunches, touching your toes….all of these can inflict a beating on your back.
“One reason is that sit-ups are hard on your back – they push your curved spine against the floor and work your hip flexors, the muscles that run from the thighs to the lumbar vertebrae in the lower back.
When the hip flexors are too strong or too tight, they tug on the lower spine, which can create lower back discomfort.”
Make sure you review all of your exercise routines for anything that could bulge your spinal discs.
#10: Common But Damaging Weightlifting Exercises
Deadlifts, clean-and-jerks, squats, and Crossfit exercises (which often involve violent, whipping movements of the back) are extraordinarily difficult to execute without risking damage to your lower back.
Unless you are a high-level athlete or paying extreme attention to what muscles you are using, you should simply avoid them and try better, controlled weight exercises.
Sure, there are probably a million ways that you can hurt your back.
But, if you avoid these ten, you’ll be doing yourself, your family, and your wallet a major favor in the long run.