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Lifestyle Modification and Back Pain

There is a huge difference between restrictive life style modifications and adapting healthy lifestyle habits. The former is meant to be a short term change and the later is meant to be a life long change. Often these things are confused by both physicians and patients alike. Most restrictive lifestyle modifications are advised and followed life long and the healthy lifestyle habbits are rarely stressed upon. As part of the current discussion we would be foccussing on these restrictive life style modification.

1.Should not bend forward

Almost all patients who reach to us in clinics have been explained that you should not be bending forwards. This false belief was started by misinterpretation of research done in 1960s and has caused more harm to the general population than all other back pain myths put together. Recent research has shown multiple evidence that contrary to belief, bending forward is in fact good for human spine. Lets not just look into evidence lets talk about common sense, we have so many Jobs that we see in our day to day lives, our farmer friends our house helps all of them practically work all day in a forward bending position . if forward bending was indeed bad for human spine then these people would be suffering from back pain the most however contrary is true.

2.Should not ride 2 wheelers

It is often said that riding 2 wheelers is bad for your back, it may be true that a person who has severe back pain should avoid jerky rides for they can increase the pain temporarily. But riding a 2 wheeler is not the cause of your back pain. Lets look into common sense again In a country like ours such a huge number of people have 2 wheelers as their daily commute option. Not all of them are suffering from debilitating back pain. Maintaining a good posture while driving 2 wheelers is advisable, as is being cautious while navigating potholes and speed bumps. Avoiding 2 wheelers all together all your life is neither feasible nor practical for most of Indians.

3.Should not sit on the ground

Although it is a well accepted fact that sitting on ground/low levels requires more energy to get up hence putting more strain on your back and leg muscles. Hence people who have acute back pain are advised not to sit on low surfaces for easier pain management. It is not something that is a long term solution or a life long restriction. Long term goal is to make your muscles strong enough so as to enable them to bear the higher demands of low sitting.

4.Don’t Lift weights

Lifting weights that are a normal day to day requirement for most of us doesn’t hurt your spine and the idea that if you have back pain you should avoid lifting even small weights is absolutely wrong. Lifting very heavy weight 20-50kg on a regular basis can have deleterious effects on your spine. But restricting yourself from lifting day to day objects is infact detrimental to your back.

5.Sleep on Hard Mattresses

The quest for an ideal mattress is something that has led to numerous questions during most of my public talks with beliefs in people ranging from sleeping on hard floor to sleeping on the traditional jute manjis is best for ones back. However the scientific evidence says that both these extremes are not good for your back. What you need is a mattress that is neither too hard nor so soft that it sags as soon as you lie down on it. Another common problem regarding choosing the mattress is the availability of mattresses which are being marketed in the form of having special technologies for your back care. The prohibitive cost difference between them and a normal mattress nullifies if ever there is any significant advantage of these special technologies.

Thinking practically, Is it humanely possible for any person to avoid bending forward all his life? Can anybody be sure that they wont undertake any jerky journey/ not lift any weight at all? Since it is practically impossible to lead a normal life while following these restrictions it is in your backs best interest that these restrictions if needed are followed for a short duration only and not as a life long modification.

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