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It has affected two billion people in the last 10 years. Sufferers spend some 24 billion dollars per year seeking relief. 80 % of us will experience the pain of it to some extent during our lives.

We’re talking about back pain – that recurrent and unremitting ache that can make every waking moment a chore. But the physical pain is not the only problem that sufferers have to put up with. The invisible nature of the ailment often leads to a lack of understanding by friends and family. Not being able to see the problem, they may tend to minimise the pain. This in turn can lead to frustration , anxiety and depression on behalf of the sufferer. If they are not careful, their back problem could end up controlling them.

Since back pain is so common, is it inevitable? And, if not, what can be done to prevent it?

A common source of back pain is herniated disk. This condition results when part of the spongy interior of the spinal disk herniates, or bulges, through the outer ring of fibrous tissue. This herniated disk may press against a nerve, which can interrupt nerve signals to and from other body parts and cause intense pain.

The muscles of the back may spasm to guard a person from further damage to weakened muscles. The sufferer is then forced to rest. In order to prevent muscle spasms a person should work to strengthen and tone the muscles of the back, abdomen and thighs. If the abdominals are weak they may create back strain due to failing to give proper support and not being able to resist the pull of the body’s weight on the spine. Well conditioned abdominals, however, create a girdle that prevents the lower back from arching and creating the condition called swayback.

Poor posture is another major contributor to back problems. An alignment that follows the spine’s natural S curve is required for good posture. Habitual poor posture, however, can cause changes to the structure of the joints leading to excessive wear and premature joint ageing.

Excessive abdominal weight can cause back strain due to gravitational pull on the muscles that support the back. One key, then, to a healthy back is a regular, well balanced exercise program. You should, of course, get a full medical check –up before undergoing any exercise routine. Your doctor may, in fact, recommend exercises that you can do at home.

Managing or eliminating stress is another way to reduce the risk of back pain.

Here are 10 more tips to preventing back pain:
(1) Avoid a quick, jerky motion. Bend at knees instead of waist.
(2) Ask for help when lifting heavy items.
(3) When lifting heavy items, position them close to your body before lifting.
(4) Use a long handled vacuum cleaner. Rather than bending from the waist to vacuum underneath items, get down on one knee.
(5) Kneel down when gardening. Break your gardening time into short segments.
(6) Do back exercise for 19 to 15 minutes per day.
(7) Take short stops when driving long distances. Use a small pillow for the small of your back if this is more comfortable.
(8) Don’t jog on hard surfaces. Wear proper running shoes.
(9) Try not to wear high heeled shoes for extended periods of time.
(10) If working in an office, get up and move around periodically. And get a chair with a properly shaped back

Back pain is not an inevitable condition. By taking on board the above advice you can empower yourself against the ravages of this debilitating condition. So make back health a part of your lifestyle. Your body will definitely thank you.