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 Is Your Lifestyle Causing Back Pain?

May 02, 2024
  Is Your Lifestyle Causing Back Pain?
Back pain is common, in part because so many things can cause it. Knowing the cause of pain is the first step in finding a treatment that can help. Here are some of the most common factors that can lead to nagging back symptoms.

Back pain is incredibly common, affecting about 65 million Americans. About a quarter of those men and women — 8% of American adults — have chronic pain that limits their daily activities. 

Though some back pain comes from degenerative diseases or traumatic injuries, like falls, sports accidents, or motor vehicle crashes, many people have pain caused by lifestyle habits. Knowing what those habits are and taking steps to change them can go a long way toward providing relief.

At Metro Spine PC, our team offers an array of medical treatments for back pain, and we also help patients play a proactive role in pain management. For many people, that means identifying and changing unhealthy habits, like the common habits listed here.

Posture problems

If you're like a lot of people, you probably spend more time than you realize hunched over your laptop or phone. Slumping and hunching put a surprising amount of stain and pressure on your spine and its joints and discs, each of which can lead to chronic pain as well as disc herniation and pinched nerves.

In addition to making the effort to sit and stand straight, consider investing in a supportive work chair with a headrest and a built-in lumbar support, and take plenty of breaks throughout the day to stretch your back. At home, choose a seat with good back and neck support, and add a firm lumbar pillow for lower back support, too. Also, avoid carrying heavy backpacks that can pull your spine out of alignment.

Sedentary lifestyle

Millions of Americans spend most of their waking hours sitting — at work, during their commute, then in front of the TV, computer, or phone while at home. Spending so much time sitting or being relatively inactive can contribute to back pain in a few ways. 

First, inactivity weakens the muscles in your back and core that support good back health. Over time, that sedentary lifestyle leads to pain and stiffness, in addition to extra strain on your spine components, like spine joints and discs.

Joining a gym is one way to be more active, but you can also reap plenty of benefits through regular walking, bicycling, swimming, or dancing. Choose an activity you enjoy so you’re more likely to stick with it.

Bad eating habits

You know junk food, processed foods, fast foods, and foods high in unhealthy fats are bad for your health, increasing the risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. However, most people don’t know poor eating habits can also lead to back pain.

First, filling up on high-fat or sugary foods leads to weight gain, particularly in the belly area. Those extra pounds put more strain on your back muscles and spine. Some foods — particularly sugary or processed foods — increase your risk of inflammation, as well, leading to pain and stiffness in your spine joints.

Opting for whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables helps fight off weight gain and inflammation, too. Keeping pre-cut fruits and veggies on hand with yogurt or hummus for dipping is a great way to avoid grabbing unhealthy snacks in between meals.

Poor shoe choices

It’s tempting to think that tight, loose, or unsupportive shoes “only” lead to foot pain. But shoes that don’t fit properly or lack support can throw off your spine alignment, putting extra stress on your knees, hips, and back and leading to chronic pain. That’s also true of high heels that push your body out of balance.

When shoe shopping, forget fashion and look for shoes with plenty of cushioning and arch support. If you play sports or engage in any physical activity, like hiking, choose footwear designed specifically for that activity.


Smoking is obviously bad for your heart and lungs, but it takes a toll on overall circulation health, too. That means less oxygen to your spine discs, resulting in an increased risk of disc-related problems, like herniation and degenerative disc disease. 

The chemicals in smoke interfere with calcium absorption, as well, which can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of stress fractures in your spine. If you smoke, you can find helpful resources for kicking the habit at

Find relief for your sore back

Back pain can take a toll on your physical health and your emotional wellness. To find a solution that can help you finally find lasting, meaningful relief, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Metro Spine PC in Oxon Hill and Clinton, Maryland, or Washington, DC, today.