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Back pain is very prevalent among Americans. So prevalent that 20 percent will say they are living with back pain now, 40 percent will have had it in the past year, and 80 percent will have had back pain in the course of their lives.

While the cause of back pain often comes from spinal stenosis or arthritic wear and tear in those aged 60 and above, these are not the only causes.

While improperly lifting a heavy object can cause back pain, so can these seven unexpected reasons:

  1. Sitting – Sitting puts pressure on the discs in your back, and that pressure decreases blood supply to the discs. If you have a desk job or sit all day, consider using a standing desk or take breaks every 30 minutes to stretch and walk around. This can flush out toxins and bring back nutrition to the discs.
  2. Stress – Your muscles tighten under stress, which can cause discs to bulge. It also lowers your tolerance for pain. Work on managing your stress with exercise, deep breathing, and meditation.
  3. Smoking – Smoking has been shown to cause premature aging of discs by decreasing blood supply to the discs in the back. This premature aging can cause pain in the lower back. Another study suggests that smoking affects the way the brain responds to pain and makes people less tolerant of it.
  4. Diet – Those who are overweight have more pressure put on their backs and are more susceptible to pain. A Stanford University study found that obese people have a four times greater risk of lower back pain. 20 minutes of daily exercise a day can reduce the risk of back pain by 32 percent. In addition, processed foods and sugars can cause inflammation of the body and cause back pain. So cut out those cookies, cake, donuts, and other sweets.
  5. Your Mattress – If you are constantly waking up with back pain every morning, it may be because your mattress is too soft.  Ideally you should be sleeping on a medium-firm mattress. A soft mattress causes the weight on your back to be uneven, which leads to pain.
  6. Flying – Pressurized air in the cabin can irritate a disc and cause it to bulge. In addition, consider checking your luggage instead of storing it in the overhead bins. Lifting heavy luggage right after a long flight can cause back pain. Stretch and walk right after the flight to minimize disc bulge.
  7. Talking on a Cell Phone – If you talk on your cell phone, especially if you use your shoulder to balance your phone, can cause neck pain, and thus back pain. In addition, texting can also cause issues as you strain your neck to look down repeatedly at your phone. Opt for earphones or use the speakerphone rather than your shoulder. Also, cut down on texting or try to hold your phone out in front of you to reduce strain on your neck.

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