Did you know that 28% of people aged 18 to 24 suffer from back pain? Sure, everybody suffers the occasional bit of cramping or a pulled muscle, but this is something more serious, and it could herald lifelong problems. Experts put the increase down to changing lifestyle factors, so it’s important to recognize what these are and to take appropriate action in order to avoid what could become a serious disability.
Causes of Back Pain
Human bodies have evolved to last long enough to reproduce – everything else is a bonus – so, unfortunately for us, they start to deteriorate quite early. By the age of 30, most people have some deterioration in the spine. This means it’s important to minimize extra stresses on it in order to keep it healthy for as long as we need it. Good posture is the most important thing for protecting the spine. It also helps to protect muscles from strain, as do exercise and care when lifting. Poor diet can stop the body getting the nutrients it needs to repair the spine, and smoking can stop them from being processed or absorbed properly.
Why is Back Pain Getting More Common?
Modern Western lifestyles increasingly involve spending large parts of the day sitting, often hunched over a screen or slumped on a couch. It used to be thought that increasing obesity rates were also part of the problem, but research has shown that extra bodyweight by itself isn’t really the problem – the problem is lack of exercise, something obese people tend to be bad at, especially if they’re afraid to take up sports or go to the gym because of other people’s unkind comments. Being tall can make back pain worse, though, because of the extra pressure on the spine, and people in recent generations have been getting taller and taller.
Protecting Yourself from Back Pain
To compound all the above problems, we have now become so used to having conversations about back pain that a lot of us ignore it, thinking there’s nothing we can do. In fact, there’s a great deal that can be done. An osteopath or a chiropractor such as HealthQuest can assess the state of any spinal damage and make recommendations. A physiotherapist can provide a program of simple exercises – sometimes as little as ten minutes a day – to correct muscle problems and relieve pain. What you really need to do, beyond this, is make lifestyle changes that will help prevent future problems from developing. Giving up smoking, improving your diet, getting outdoors in the sun (which your body needs so that it can make vitamin D, which helps it absorb calcium for your bones) and getting at least half an hour of exercise a day, even if it’s just walking to and from work, can make all the difference.
Making good choices now could put an end to your problems and significantly reduce the risks you’ll face as you get older, helping you to live a long life with a healthy body.