What's really causing your back pain?

By Nancy Szokan

From depression to foot problems, the real cause of back pain could be another seemingly unrelated ailment. Photo / Getty
From depression to foot problems, the real cause of back pain could be another seemingly unrelated ailment. Photo / Getty

About 85 per cent of adults younger than 50 have experienced it at least once, and the onset of chronic back pain most frequently occurs between the ages of 30 and 50.

So information in the March issue of AARP's magazine (American Association of Retired Persons) - "Five Surprising Reasons Your Back Is Killing You" - may be of interest to a younger cohort. To wit:

1. Depression: Researchers from the University of Sydney found that people with symptoms of deep depression had a 60 per cent greater incidence of back pain than people without such symptoms - possibly because depressed people sleep poorly and don't get enough exercise, both of which are linked to back pain. The suggestion? See a therapist.

• READ MORE: How to identify signs of depression

2. Tight hips: Anyone who spends a lot of time sitting develops thickening of the fibrous tissue encasing the hip joint. This puts extra strain on your lower back. One way to address this is practicing yoga's frog pose: Drop to your hands and knees, knees wide apart, and slide forward to lower your elbows and forearms to the floor; hold. (You can find lots of demonstrations online.)

3. Foot issues: Something as seemingly unrelated as plantar fasciitis - inflammation of the tissue across the bottom of your foot - can produce back pain by throwing off your gait. So get foot and ankle pains treated, not just to make walking easy again but also to prevent further problems.

4. Forward body weight: All excess weight contributes to back pain, and carrying those extra pounds around your gut can make it worse. Losing weight would be the goal, but meanwhile do exercises such as lunges to strengthen both large and small muscles that support your spine.

5. Smartphone addiction: Bending your neck too often or for too long can put up to 60 extra pounds of force on your spine. If you're too FOMO-inclined to cut back, keep your head up and just look down with your eyes.

- Washington Post

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