The 10 everyday habits to blame for your agonising back pain – and when to worry

A NIGGLE here or there is usually nothing to worry about when it comes to discomfort in your back.

But if you’re experiencing agonising pain that you can’t explain – then it could be time to talk to your GP.


Many people suffer with back pain and experts say that it could be down to some of your daily habitsCredit: Getty

Poor posture and uncomfortable work stations can all contribute to the problem.

Physiotherapist and advisor to Deep Heat, Sammy Margo previously said that back pain is now the single biggest cause of disability in the UK and highlighted that over a third of people don’t know the cause of theirs.

Data from the brand shows that 29 per cent of people believe it’s down to poor posture, with 21 per cent saying they think it’s down to a pulled muscle.

It also found that 17 per cent of people put their back pain down to a sprain or strain.

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Here experts look at the ten everyday habits that could be to blame.

1. Getting stressed

A recent survey found that 55 per cent of Brits have experienced back pain with 30 per cent having had both lower and upper back pain.

Sammy said stress can actually be a contributor to back pain.

This could be emotional or physical stress and the guru said you need to make sure you’re taking sufficient rest.

“Take a break from any activities that cause your muscles to knot. It’s easy to forget the connection between psychological or emotional stress and physical stress, which can become a vicious cycle.”

She recommended light to moderate exercise, as this is a known stress reducer.

2. Not engaging your core

Hollie Grant, pilates instructor, and founder of Pilates PT said lower back pain in particular can be caused by a weak core.

She explained: “Make sure the core is strong. When the core is strong it supports the lower back better.

“We want everything to be functioning well and strong and all muscles are working together to keep your body where it is supposed to be and pain free.”

3. Lack of stretching

Taking time to fit in stretches might seem boring, but not doing this could also be causing you issues.

Holly said that stretching is an effective way to lesser lower back pain – which might be caused by tight hips from a sedentary lifestyle.

The guru said you should try and fit in at least 5 to 10 minutes of mobility work each day.

“If you do exercises like pilates, you’re going to have better range of movement and more mobility because you’ve ironed out muscle imbalances.

“A lot of tightness that leads to pain is caused by muscle imbalances.

“So it’s not just about constantly stretching muscles, its about strengthening the opposing muscles so they work together”, she said.

4. The wrong equipment

We’ve all got that one pillow that has seen better days and experts say you should invest in one that is both comfortable and gives you the support you need.

Dr Neel Anand a professor of orthopedic surgery at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center in Los Angeles said you should look for a pillow that keeps you neck parallel to the mattress and that adapts to your specific sleep position.

If you have a firmer mattress you should use a thicker pillow because there is less cushion for your shoulder to sink into, he told Huff Post.

Dr Sumi Soori, who has recently teamed up with Simba said if you have backache then you should sleep on your back with a pillow tucked between your knees in order to alleviate the pain.

The 10 back pain red flags you need to know

Posting to TikTok Dr Mohan Sekeram revealed that different symptoms that could accompany your back pain which mean you would need to seek medical attention.

  1. Unexplained weight loss
  2. Persistent fever
  3. Bowel dysfunction
  4. Bladder dysfunction
  5. Loss in muscle power
  6. Weakness in limbs
  7. Progressive neurological weakness
  8. History of cancer
  9. Trauma to your back
  10. Prolonged steroid use

5. Scrolling

Poor posture can lead to chronic back pain and the constant craning of your neck combined with the abnormal position you sit in when scrolling could be causing you issues.

Nathaniel Melendez, an exercise physiologist at Orlando Health’s National Training Center said people don’t realise the stress it places on your body when it isn’t aligned correctly.

“If, for example, your head is 4 inches in front of your body when you’re looking down at your phone, that’s like having a child sitting on your shoulders that whole time”, he added.

6. Bad posture

If you find yourself slouching on the couch and walking with hunched shoulders then it’s likely you have bad posture.

Dr Febin Melepura said poor posture is one of the main culprits of back pain.

The expert, who is the medical director at Sports Injury and Pain Management Clinic NYC said that sitting hunched puts pressure on the lower back and can lead to pain and spasms due to the change in the normal curvature of the spine.

7. Bad set up

Holly added that you might struggle with pain if you have a muscle imbalance.

She said that if you sit down a lot, then you might have short hip flexors which contribute to back pain.

This might be the case if you have an office or even a driving job that limits your movements and places you in uncomfortable positions for prolonged periods of time.

8. Not standing enough

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, experts previously recommended that desk-based workers should break up their day with standing based work.

If possible it was recommended they also switch to a sit-stand desk, initially aiming for two hours of standing or light activity every working day, building up to four hours a day in order to prevent back pain.

Sammy added: “It’s really important that back strains are prevented with good posture – for example sitting up straight and using the stomach muscles while sitting at a desk or driving the car, and early use of therapies when muscular pain is first noticed.

“This can include heat therapy as well as stretching, massage with a tennis ball, and regular exercise”.

9. Foot support

If you walk a certain way, then this could lead to back pain.

This is especially true for people who have arched feet and who don’t use adequate support.

Veera Gupta, a chiropractor at Optimum Health Chiropractic in New Jersey told Huff Post that if you’re a ‘foot slapping walker’ then you could be doing damage.

She explained that feet are meant to move in a pattern, moving from heel to toe.

“If you walk without arch support then the foot collapses and the kinetic chain of energy ends in your back, causing lower back pain,” she added.

10. Get your steps in

As humans, our bodies were designed for movement – but most people spend the majority of their time sat down, whether that’s at work or sitting in front of the TV watching Netflix.

Dr Anand said because of this our spines are ‘screaming in pain’.

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To fix this, all you have to do is get up and go out for a walk.

This, the guru explained, will strengthen the spine and the surrounding muscles.

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