Stay at a healthy weight
Simply put, extra pounds strain the body, especially the back. Excess weight seems to put a greater amount of pressure on the spine and accelerate some of the degeneration that normally occurs in the discs, explains Mehul J. Desai, M.D., M.P.H., director of pain medicine services at the George Washington Pain Center, in Washington, D.C. It also affects posture: The more weight you have in the front of your body, the more it pulls you forward, which puts your spine at a disadvantage. After having back surgery in 2005, Debra Vekstein made a concerted effort to lose weight and exercise more frequently to stay pain-free. I had back problems on and off for close to 20 years, and the combination of losing 50 pounds, stretching and exercising regularly has made a huge difference, says Vekstein, 50, a social worker in Washington, D.C. Now that I’m carrying less weight and I have a stronger core, I’m less prone to back pain. The way I look at it is, once you get rid of the chronic low back pain, it’s about lifelong maintenance.