Most people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, according to the American Chiropractic Association, up to 31 million Americans are dealing with the strain at any given time. While we all know that acute injuries to the back can happen from things like twisting the wrong way, carrying heavy loads incorrectly, or as a result of an impact or a fall, there are a number of surprising causes of back pain that can leave you feeling an ache along the spine.

1. Saggy Mattress

We spend about 1/3 of our lives at rest on a mattress, where we could spend hours in a single position with our bodies basically limp. A quality mattress should provide you with uniform support, meaning that it not only cushions pressure points where the body meets the surface, but also supports the contours of a neutral spine. Most people will benefit from a medium-firm mattress, and if the mattress noticeably sinks or sags when you lie on it, it may be the surprising cause of back pain in your life and should be replaced.

2. Sorry Soles

Stability in the body starts from the ground up, and it’s not just a pair of unsupportive flats or anatomy-contorting heels that are bad for the back. If the sensible pair of shoes you’re wearing on a daily basis have become worn out, the lack of sole support can be changing your gait and contributing to back pain as it changes the alignment in your feet, ankles, knees and hips. Consider replacing old shoes, purchasing new insoles, or even having a favorite pair re-soled if your shoes have seen better days.

3. Sizeable Satchels

Anyone can attest that the bigger the bag, the more room you have to carry more “stuff.” Unfortunately, any time you “shoulder” the weight of a bag on just one side of the body, you’re adding unbalanced weight to your frame, uneven pressure to the cushioning discs in the spine, and straining already taxed muscles. Consider developing a nightly ritual of removing what you don’t actually need to carry around on a daily basis, and of leaving the bag altogether for most outings. Do you really need that Kindle to run for groceries?

4. Sedentary Lifestyle

A lack of exercise can not only lead to weight gain, it can be a surprising cause of back pain because sedentary bodies lack the muscle tone needed to support the body effectively. Weak supporting muscles around the joints in the body contribute to poor alignment and affect the biomechanics of everything from sitting or standing to walking and moving. Also, weak core muscles fail to support the torso. According to Dr. Walter Watters III, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Specialty Physician Group, strengthening abdominal and back muscles are critical factors in diminishing back pain. Aim for 2-4 days a week of cardiovascular and strength training to soothe a strained spine.


5. Smoking Cigarettes

If there weren’t already enough reasons to quit smoking, a 2014 study published in Human Brain Mapping has given us another; researchers have found that people who smoke have a tripled chance of developing back pain. This can be attributed to the deprivation of blood flow and oxygen to the structures in the discs and joints that result from the vasoconstrictive effects of the nicotine. Breathe easier and with less pain by finally giving up the bad habit.


Suffering from Surprise Back Pain?

Even if you haven’t experienced an acute injury, back pain can creep into your daily life and cause problems. At Health Star Clinic, we use a combination of chiropractic, physical therapy, and conventional medicine paired with the latest medical technology to pinpoint the cause of your pain and to successfully manage and treat it. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!