The most common reasons for back pain are sprains and strains.
A sprain is a stretch/tear in a ligament, while a strain is the same thing but for muscles or tendons.
Back sprains/strains tend to go away after a period of days to weeks, even without medical intervention.
If you’re suffering from back pain because of a sprain/strain, you can recover faster with a few simple changes which we’ll talk about below.
Common causes of back strain/sprain:
- Bad posture
- Weak back or abdominal muscles
- Being overweight
Bad posture is a very common cause of back sprains/strains, especially for people with sedentary lifestyles such as people with desk jobs or don’t get much physical activity.
Signs of bad posture:
- Rounded shoulders
- Hunching over keyboard or phone
- Leaning on 1 leg
- Poking chin out while sitting (usually at the desk)
- Slouching too much or curving back excessively
- Standing with a flat back
- Sticking butt out while standing
Bad posture is often built over time, as a result of bad habits. Often, though, bad posture can still be fixed with a few simple changes.
Signs of good posture:
- Body weight distributed evenly on both feet
- Chin parallel to the floor
- Even hips
- Even knees, pointing straight ahead
- Even shoulders
- Neutral spine (lower back curve isn’t overemphasized)
To achieve good posture, it’s a good idea to actively pay attention to your posture at any given time. Whenever you fall back into your old habits, catch yourself and try again.
You can do posture stretches for just 5 minutes a day. If you do these consistently, you should start seeing results in just a few weeks.
Sometimes, however, stretching everyday just doesn’t cut it. You might still suffer from poor posture despite consistent stretching.
In these cases, bad posture could be a result of a weak core or excessive weight, which leads us to our next point.
Your back and abdominal muscles make up your core. This part of your body is responsible for keeping you upright. Because of this, they play a massive role in determining how good your posture is.
A weak core (usually from a lack of physical activity) will struggle to support the spine whether sitting or standing. This puts unnecessary pressure on the spine, which can lead to a sprain/strain.
To strengthen the core, we recommend doing core-strengthening exercises for at least 5 minutes a day — even simple ab exercises, yoga, or Pilates will help strengthen the core enough to reduce bad posture.
There are also specific stretches for improving posture. They should only take 5 minutes and minimal effort. But take note that, for their effects to be noticeable, you must be consistent with doing these stretches every day.
People who are overweight or obese are at much greater risk of back pain than people with healthy weights.
The reason for this is because the excess body weight often places a lot of pressure on the back and hips, which often leads to back pain.
Often times, an overweight person’s center of gravity shifts because of the excess weight. This forces the spine to lean towards an unnatural direction and compress unnaturally.
This shift in the person’s center of gravity, if left unaddressed, can have long-term detrimental effects.
Sometimes, back pain can persist or worsen. This usually happens because of a condition or injury. In such cases, it’s unwise to leave the back pain to heal on its own.
Unlike with back sprains/strains, delaying medical help can aggravate the pain and have more serious, long-lasting effects.
So if you’ve experienced any of the following, consult your doctor immediately:
- Herniated disc – a spine injury that often occurs after a single excessive strain on the spine
- Degenerative disc disease – happens when one or more of the discs in the spinal column breaks down, often due to age or when bearing too much weight
- Osteoarthritis – can happen due to eroding cartilage and inflammation
- Spinal stenosis – can happen when the spinal canal narrows due to degeneration