Eight Surprising Habits That Cause Back Pain

By Diana Vilibert
9/28/2013 10:26:55 AM

Mysterious aches and pains? The cause may surprise you-plus, easy fixes for back pain culprits.

1. The Habit: Sleeping On An Old Mattress

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good mattress will last nine to ten years. Haven't replaced yours since Cheers first aired? Chances are that your spine isn't getting the support it needs.

The Fix: Replace your old mattress with one that's not too hard and not too soft-the former won't allow the curves of your back to sink in, and the latter won't offer enough support. A memory foam topper can also be helpful because it'll contour to your body, allowing your spine to stay straight throughout the night.

Credit: Care2

2. The Habit: Carrying a Huge Bag

If you're someone who likes to carry around all the essentials and nonessentials in your bag, your back is feeling it. Carrying a heavy load on one side of your body causes your shoulders to become imbalanced, throwing your spine out of balance too.

The Fix: Switch to a lighter bag-the American Chiropractic Association recommends that your purse (with everything in it) weighs no more than 10 percent of your body weight. You can also spread out all of your stuff between a purse and a tote, one on each shoulder, to stay balanced.

3. The Habit: Wearing Stilettos...Or Flats

Heels that are too high for you will force you to arch your back, putting stress on your joints. But flats can also be bad for you, depending on your foot type. Sandals without a supportive back can also do damage, causing your feet to move from side to side and distributing your body weight unevenly.

The Fix: Everyone has an ideal heel height for them (which is why some can't live without ballet flats, and some claim their stilettos are the most comfortable shoes they own). Find yours with this guide from the Daily Mail: sit in a chair and extend one leg out in front of you. Let your foot and ankle relax and fall naturally, and measure the distance between your big toe and the bottom of your heel-that's your ideal heel height. If your foot doesn't angle at all, flats are your best bet.

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