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8 Reasons You Have Back Pain

We tend not to think about our back until it starts hurting. Then-ouch!-it certainly has our attention. Save your spine-and spare yourself the agony-by brushing up on these common causes of back pain.

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Woman with a sore back caused by poor posturePhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Poor posture

The fix: Find the posture that puts the least stress on your back.

Stand up straight with your weight evenly balanced on both feet. Tilt your pelvis forward, then back, then settle into the position that feels most comfortable. Next, concentrate on the area near your waist, then your chest area and finally your neck and shoulders. Try to feel which position is most comfortable and least stressful. This is the position to maintain when you’re standing, walking and beginning or ending any exercise.

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Heavy handbag causing back painPhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Your purse or backpack

The fix: Lighten the load!

Hanging a heavy weight off one side of your body stresses your skeleton as muscles try to compensate. Weigh your shoulder bag, backpack, or briefcase on the bathroom scale. If it’s more than 10 per cent of your body weight, pare it down.

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Wallet in back pocketPhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Your wallet

The fix: Carry less cash.

Hey, big spender! 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 actually has a name: wallet neuropathy.

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Woman with uneven legsPhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Mismatched leg lengths

It turns out any discrepancy greater than an inch on either leg might put a strain on your back. Who knew? (Well, your tailor might have noticed it!)

The fix: Try an insole in your shoe or consult a podiatrist about custom inserts.

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Back pain at the officePhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Your office chair

The fix: Use a lumbar support behind your lower back.

The lumbar roll is a chair’s-width foam cylinder about 12 cm in diameter. (You can improvise with a rolled-up towel.) Also, check your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at eye level, and use a wrist rest in front of your keyboard. Knees and elbows should be bent at 90-degree angles.

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Cramped airplane seatingPhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Lowered knees

The fix: When sitting at your desk or on a long flight, put something under your feet so your knees are slightly higher than your hips. This move eases pressure on the lower back.

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Woman sleeping in bedPhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Your bed

The fix: Try sleeping on your back or on your side (unless you have sciatica).

If you’re more comfortable on your back, place a pillow under your knees as well as under your head to relieve pressure on your lower back. If you prefer to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs. If you have sciatica, the recommended position is on your stomach.

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People standing in line with back painPhoto: ShutterStock

The reason you have back pain: Waiting in line

The fix: When you’re standing in a line-up, raise one foot higher than the other using a step or curb.

Think of the traditional brass rail in a pub, which serves the same purpose. Periodically change position by putting up the opposite foot. This shifting of weight gives alternating back muscles a chance to relax.

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