The 31 million Americans that live with lower back pain can tell you that it doesn’t take much for back pain to strike. Seniors are more susceptible; it can take something as simple as picking up a pen from the floor for back pain to rear its ugly head. Fortunately, the majority of the time, back pain is short-term in nature and eventually goes away on its own. For seniors experiencing chronic back pain, some simple adjustments may be of benefit.
Here are 8 tips that can bring relief and help prevent problems in the future.
1. Stay Fit and Maintain a Healthy Weight
This is undoubtedly one of the most important recommendations for avoiding and relieving back pain, though it can be a challenge for sedentary seniors. Extra pounds put extra stress on the back and are a major cause of back pain. Keeping weight in a healthy range by eating a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats will help keep their back healthy.
2. Strengthen the Back Muscles
When seniors who aren’t in shape start doing heavy lifting or hard work such as lawn care, shoveling snow, or gardening, these activities can stress the back. This often happens when there’s degeneration of the spine, which is common in people over age 50. Physical therapy is standard back pain treatment, but being in shape with light weight lifting (if approved by their doctor) can help avoid back problems to begin with.
3. Maintain Flexibility
Stretching is vital for maintaining flexibility and avoiding back problems. It also plays a major role in recovering from a back injury. Seniors should stretch before doing any heavy lifting or exercising, and they should make it a habit before going to bed. Yoga is the ultimate stretching exercise for many seniors. Classes are offered for free at many senior community centers.
4. Lift Properly
When picking up heavy objects, seniors should bend at the knees and keep the item their lifting close to their body. They should be careful not to twist when they lift, and wear a back brace if back pain has been a problem for them.
5. Have Good Posture
Another major contributor to back pain in seniors is poor posture. Proper posture is standing up straight with the ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hip joints, and hip joints over the ankles. This will help keep the back pain-free, as well as alleviating current back pain. Also, having a chair designed to keep the back straight will help.
6. Leave the Purse or Stuffed Billfold at Home
For women, carrying a heavy bag can affect their balance and can change the spine’s curvature. For men, a wallet packed full of cards or receipts in their back pocket can put pressure on the sciatic nerve in the back. It’s better to carry a few dollars and identification in the pocket when leaving the house.
7. Practice Stress Relief
Feeling stressed can worsen back pain, which is another good reason to practice yoga. Stress reduction can also include good self-treatment, avoiding over-scheduling and over-activity levels, and just taking it slow and enjoying life.
8. Sleep Well
A mattress that’s too soft can push the back out of alignment and cause or worsen back pain. Choose or replace a soft mattress with a new one that’s in the range of medium to firm as a way to prevent and relieve back pain.
If back pain persists, your senior should consult their physician and talk about additional treatment options.
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