Do you often 'accidentally slouch' while working on your laptop, sitting on your bed? Or do you frequently stay put at one place engrossed in your files at work? And, are you a millennial experiencing all this?
This could be impacting in your health, in more ways than you know. A lot of young adults have been consulting doctors for lower back pain. Here's what these doctors told FIT.
What Causes Back Pain?
One of the major causes of why so many people have been facing back pain in recent years is the growing sedentary lifestyle.
Dr Sudhir Kumar, a neurologist at Hyderabad’s Apollo Hospitals, says, “Earlier, most jobs required some sort of movement in people. But now, since most jobs are desk-oriented, people sit for much longer hours.”
He explains that when one sits for a long duration, without any other physical movement taking place, it puts a strain on the lower back, which is handling much of our body’s weight at that moment.
Dr Kumar adds,
“When your back muscles don’t move, they become very weak. Due to this, the disc (the soft tissue between the bones of the spine) also gets weakened. And a simple strain, while lifting heavy weights in the gym or picking up a heavy bag, can cause bigger issues such as bulging of the disc in the lower back, and make one prone to slipped discs.”
But there are other causes of lower back pain as well:
Not exercising regularly
Not doing exercises that focus on your back muscles
Calcium and vitamin D deficiency
Sports injuries or gym injuries
5 Yoga Poses for Back Pain
Should Younger People Be Concerned?
Yes. Dr Kumar shares that one of the leading causes of absenteeism from work and reduced work output among the youth is lower back pain. And this is a problem that would only crop up in old age until a few years ago.
Dr Pramod Bhor, HOD of Orthopedic Surgery, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, says that with gadgets and screens becoming smaller, a lot of people bend while working, which makes them prone to lower back pain.
He adds, “After COVID-19, everything is online, so adults work from home, children study on their laptops, and then play on these gadgets. Everyone sits on the bed all day to work and there’s no proper support to the backs.”
“At least schools have proper height-adjusted tables and chairs, but apart from them, so many children don’t even step out to play, so back problems creep up on them,” he says.
What Can We Do?
Lower back pain can often be severe and limiting. Dr Kumar shares that it can lead to other complications as well, such as numbness and weakness in our feet and legs, blockage of urine, lack of control over bowel movement, and erectile problems in men.
He explains that this is because the nerves controlling all of these are located in our back, and a slipped disc or lower back pain might put a strain on these nerves.
Dr Bhor shares that when it comes to back pain, the prevention and the treatment are the same. Dr Kumar agrees. This is what both of them suggest:
Exercise for at least 20-30 minutes a day. And try to include back extension exercises and yoga in your workout. Use staircases instead of elevators.
Avoid prolonged sitting. Find some excuse to stand and walk around, and take a break every few hours.
But when you are sitting, stay mindful of your posture. Sit erect and have proper lumbar support. Also, you can exercise your neck and back muscles even while sitting.
Make sure that while working, your gadgets are placed ergonomically, neither too low nor too high, so that you don’t have to bend constantly to work.
Check your calcium and vitamin D levels. And try to either include foods rich in them in your diet or take supplements.