Live an Active Lifestyle This Year to Ease Back Pain

As 2014 comes into full swing, it’s a crucial time to stick to your resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, this can be difficult when you have back pain slowing you down. According to the World Health Organization, back pain is one of the most common causes of disability and a major detractor from the quality of life for people across the globe. If you’ve recently recovered from a back injury, you don’t have to be told how debilitating it can be when you are trying to create an active routine.

There are ways you can increase your activity, better your health and strengthen your back with some small changes. Follow these tips to make 2014 a healthy and happy year.

Weight Loss and Proper Diet

Many people start the new year with a resolution to lose weight, but if you have recently suffered from a back injury, you have even more reason to do so. The University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine says that weight loss can be an important part of treating or preventing back pain.

Focusing on eating a healthy diet includes avoiding processed, refined and sugary foods. This can not only help you lose stubborn pounds, but it can help reduce the inflammation that can cause pain. By including certain foods that are considered to be anti-inflammatory, such as most fruits and vegetables, garlic, onions, spices, olive oil and wild-caught fish, you can help decrease your body’s inflammatory response even more.

Take Periodic Walk Breaks Throughout the Day

If you have a sedentary job, sitting all day can be hard on your back. By taking periodic walk breaks, you’ll not only burn more calories — which boosts weight loss efforts — but you will help take the stress off your back and decrease the risk of back pain and injury. Spine experts say getting up every 15 to 20 minutes is important for good back health.

If it’s hard for you to remember to take a break, set an alarm on your phone or download a break reminder app like StretchClock.

Practice Yoga

A 2011 study found that by practicing yoga regularly, back pain sufferers experienced reduced back pain and improved functioning. Keep in mind that the type of yoga practiced in this study focused on the back and legs and was also adapted for each individual’s own physical limitations. Laser Spine Institute features research-based articles, including “Yoga and the Aging Spine,” which recommends specific yoga postures for better spine health.

Regular Physical Activity

Getting regular exercise is a must for good spine health. Low-impact aerobic activities like swimming, bicycling and walking are particularly helpful as they strengthen abdominal muscles without over-taxing the back. If you really want to make a lifestyle change, think about moving into a community known for its active residents. You can usually tell these neighborhoods right away, as neighbors are friendly and enjoy being outdoors, spending time with their families and friends. Top a healthy move off by considering adopting a dog. Not only are you saving a life, but your pet will give you the chance to get out and active much more often than you might be used to. Plus, you’ll have fun playing fetch or rollerblading through the streets with them.