Five Simple Strategies to Prevent and Ease Back Pain

Lifestyle changes to keep your back in good condition.

8 Myths About Sleep

1. Balance Your Diet
Some foods can have anti-inflammatory effects that help ward off back pain. Back-friendly foods include cherries, olive oil, salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, linseed (flaxseed), walnuts, soy products, nuts, green tea and ginger. On the other end of the diet spectrum, some foods can contribute to pain: processed foods, sunflower oil, margarine, products containing high-fructose corn syrup and foods high in saturated fat and trans fats.

2. Let the Sun Shine
A lack of vitamin D, the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, may contribute to back pain. In one study, more than 80% of people between 15 and 52 with chronic low-back pain, were deficient in the vitamin. Some nutrition experts suggest taking 1000 IU of D3 daily.

3. Edit Your Wallet
Sitting on a fat wallet all day tweaks the spine and can compress a crucial nerve in the buttocks. That can cause sciatica – inflammation of that nerve. This problem is so common among men that it has a name: wallet neuropathy.

4. Turn Up the Heat
When back pain strikes, try treating it with a wearable heat wrap rather than ibuprofen or paracetamol. These pads provide 40°C heat for up to eight hours. Also, one study published in Spine found they supply more relief than the maximum dose of nonprescription pain relievers – and with longer-lasting effects.

5. Do a Leg Check
When sitting at your desk, put a footstool or something like a large book under your feet so your knees are slightly higher than your hips, to ease pressure on the lower back.

Subscribe to Reader's Digest magazine for more great health articles...


More in Back


4 Soothing Yoga Pozes to Help You Sleep

Boost relaxation and beat insomnia by soothing your mind and body before bed. Here are four easy yoga poses to get you there.
Oh My Back

Oh, My Back!

Here’s relief: best advice and breakthrough treatments, from the world’s leading experts on back complaints.