You may think lifting heavy objects is a certain cause of back pain. But it’s how you lift that matters. Here are some facts to help you get to the root of back pain.

THE TRUTH ABOUT BACK PAIN

It might be a sharp stab. It might be a dull ache. Sooner or later, eight out of ten of us will have back pain. Back pain is common – and so are back pain myths. Keep reading to learn more about the myths and the facts.

MYTH: ALWAYS SIT UP STRAIGHT TO PREVENT BACK PAIN

Yes, slouching is bad for your back. But sitting up too straight too still for too long can be a strain on the back. If you sit a lot, try this a few times a day: Lean back in your chair with your feet on the floor and a slight curve in your back. Even better: Try standing for part of the day, while on the phone or while reading work materials.

MYTH: LIFTING HEAVY OBJECTS HURTS YOUR BACK

It’s not necessarily how much you lift, it’s how you lift. Of course you shouldn’t lift anything that might be too heavy for you. When you lift, squat close to the object with your back straight and head up. Stand, using your legs to lift the load. Do not twist or bend your body while lifting. It can really hurt your back to twist while bending and lifting with your feet on the floor – as you might do when reaching down from a chair to lift a dropped pencil.

MYTH: STAY IN BED UNTIL BACK PAIN GOES AWAY

Yes, resting can help an acute injury or strain that causes back pain. But it’s a myth that you should stay in bed. A day or two in bed can make your back pain worse.

MYTH: BACK PAIN IS ALWAYS CAUSED BY AND INJURY

Disc degeneration, injuries, disease, infectious, and even inherited conditions can cause back pain.

FACT: OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE SUFFER MORE BACK PAIN

Staying fit helps prevent back pain. Back pain is most common among people who are out of shape, especially weekend warriors who engage in vigorous activities after sitting around all week. And as you might guess, obesity stresses the back.

MYTH: SKINNY PEOPLE DON’T GET BACK PAIN

Anyone can get back pain. In fact, people who are too thin, such as those suffering from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder, may suffer bone loss resulting in fractured or crushed vertebrae.

MYTH: EXERCISE IS BAD FOR YOUR BACK PAIN

A big myth! Regular exercise prevents back pain. And for people suffering an acuter injury resulting in lower back pain, doctors may recommend an exercise program that begins with gentle exercises and gradually increases in intensity. Once the acute pain subsides, an exercise regimen may help prevent future recurrence of back pain.

FACT: CHIROPRACTIC ADJUSTMENTS CAN HELP BACK PAIN

Guidelines from Pain Societies and other such institutions for treatment of lower back pain recommend that patients and doctors consider spinal manipulations – either by a chiropractor or a massage therapist – for patients with back pain.

FACT: ACUPUNCTURE CAN HELP BACK PAIN

According to these same experts, patients and their doctors should consider acupuncture among treatments for back pain patients who do not get relief from standard self care. Yoga, progressive relaxation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy are also suggested for consideration.

MYTH: A SUPER-FIRM MATTRESS IS BEST FOR YOUR BACK

A Spanish study of people with long-standing, non- specific back pain showed that those who slept on a medium-firm mattress – rated 5.6 on a 10-point hard-to-soft scale – had less back pain and disability that those who slept on a firm mattress (2.3 on the scale) mattress. However, depending on their sleep habits and the cause of their back pain, different people may need different mattresses.

See you next week.