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They say the best defense is a good offense, and that just so happens to be a good analogy for many things in life, including preventing back pain. Lower back pain is such a startlingly common occurrence that it’s a good idea for anyone – regardless of their history with or without back pain – to take steps to actively avoid it. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent back pain.

Tips for Preventing Back Pain: Exercise

Your back was designed to move, so in order to help keep it healthy, you have to help keep it moving. Building your core strength through weight or resistance training will help provide your spine and back with plenty of support, and help increase how much stress it can withstand before an injury occurs. Also, the aerobic or cardio activity will get the blood pumping to your spine, delivering nutrients and hydration to your back and its supporting structures, which speeds healing time and improves overall back health.

Tips for Preventing Back Pain: Watch Your Lifestyle

No one said these tips were going to be fun. In order to have a truly healthy back, you have to have a truly healthy body. That means watching what you eat, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, and drinking water in abundance.

Tips for Preventing Back Pain: Keep Your Hamstrings Loose

Stretching your hamstrings is a great step towards preventing lower back pain because having your hamstrings in good shape will greatly decrease how much stress your lower back is expected to handle during your daily movements. You can start small with this, simply bending down to touch your toes 3-5 times a day, holding the move for 20 seconds each time.

Tips for Preventing Back Pain: Lift Carefully

So many back injuries occur while lifting heavy objects. So, so many. In order to avoid these injuries, here are three things you should keep in mind for your lifting technique.

  1. Bend at the hips and keep your chest pointing forward. You’ve been told to lift with your legs, surely, but that doesn’t mean bending only at the knees and rolling your back over the object you’re lifting. Bend your knees and sink low with your hips, keeping your chest pointed forward in order to keep your back straight as you lift.
  2. Lead with your hips. Don’t let your shoulders get overeager. Your shoulders should be in line with your hips as you are moving a heavy object, and when you go to change directions, it should be your hips leading the motion, not your upper body.
  3. Keep the object you’re lifting close to your center of gravity. This one may be common sense, but it’s worth mentioning. Moving any object will be easier if you carry it close to your hips or midsection instead of holding it out with your arms.

Keep these tips in mind to prevent lower back pain, and for further tips on keeping your back healthy, head here.