7 Surprising Habits Causing Back Pain

Eight in 10 people suffer from back pain at some point in their life. Back pain has a number of potential causes including auto injuries, disc herniation, heavy lifting, arthritis, and more. While many causes of back pain are out of our control, like auto accidents or aging, there are several factors which could raise your risk of back pain, or make matters worse if you already experience the condition. Here are six of the most common mistakes we see among our patients with back pain in Salem:

  1. Habit: Too much sitting. Sitting is estimated to apply 40% more pressure on the spine than standing. Office workers, students, and anyone whose work requires them to sit all day are especially susceptible to back and neck pain. Too much inactivity causes the back muscles to weaken, while poor posture and improper desk ergonomics can strain the ligaments and muscles in the back. Dr. Michels can counsel you on using proper posture and better ergonomics to decrease back pain in Salem.

  2. Habit: Carrying a gigantic purse or back pack. Wearing a huge purse places more weight on one side of the body, forcing your spine to become imbalanced over time. Heavy loads in school backpacks is a common reason why we see Salem students with back pain. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that the weight of your bag not exceed 10% of your body weight. Salem chiropractor Dr. Michels recommends you only carry the essentials with when you leave home.

  3.  Habit: Being stressed. Anxiety, stress, and worry can make you tense up yourStress and Back pain in Salem, OR back, neck, and shoulder muscles, causing back pain. Over time, stress can wreck havoc on the body and diminish your ability to recover from illnesses, infections, and injuries. More serious mental conditions like depression and post traumatic stress disorder has been found to exacerbate symptoms of whiplash and back pain. Finding ways to relax throughout the day, and seeking treatment for any mental health issues you may have will positively affect your recovery from musculoskeletal injuries.

  4. Habit: Wearing incorrect shoes. High heels can force the spine to carry your weight in abnormal ways, causing decreased coordination between the back, trunk, and hip extensor muscles. But high heels aren't the only shoes to blame-- ballet flats and any shoe with improper support can lead to back pain while running, walking, or standing. Especially if your work involves standing all day, investing in a decent pair of supportive shoes can reduce your risk of back pain. Salem chiropractor Dr. Michels can evaluate your current footwear to see whether they may be contributing to your back pain.

  5. Habit: Skipping work outs. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent back pain and a number of other musculoskeletal conditions. Inactivity may lead to stiffness and weakened muscles which are less capable of supporting your body as you move about your daily activities. Salem chiropractor Dr. Michels can recommend appropriate exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles.

  6. Habit: Eating junk food. If soda, candy, and chips are a regular part of your diet, you could be putting yourself at a risk for a number health problems including obesity. Being overweight or obese is tied to more pain in the back, knees, and joints. Dr. Michels can support you in making healthy lifestyle changes to lose weight and reduce your risk of back pain.

  7. Habit: Smoking. More and more studies are showing a link between smoking and spinal conditions like back pain and sciatica. At the same time, quitting smoking has been found to improve symptoms in patients with spinal conditions.


At Michels Spinal Rehab and Associates, we use chiropractic adjustments in combination with exercise, postural analysis, and advice on healthy lifestyle choices to help reduce and prevent back pain for patients in Salem, OR.


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Smoking Cessation Improves Pain In Spine Patients. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 21 Mar. 2013.

Briggs MS, et al. The Relationships of C-Reactive Protein and Obesity to the Prevalence and the Odds of Reporting Low Back Pain. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2012; pii: S0003-9993(12)01187-2. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.11.026.

Rihn JA, et al. The Influence of Obesity on the Outcome of Treatment of Lumbar Disc Herniation: Analysis of the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT). The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 2012; doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.01558.

Bigos S, Holland J, Holland C, Webster J, Battie, Malmgren J. High-quality controlled trials on preventing episodes of back problems: systematic literature review in working-age adults. The Spine Journal 2009; 9: 147-168.

Villbert, D. 8 surprising habits that cause back pain. Care2.com. September 25, 2013. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-surprising-habits-that-cause-back-pain.html?page=1


  1. dr Robertson

    Dr. Julia Robertson, DC is a Chiropractic Physician who worked with Michels Spinal Rehab and Associates and who is now the proud owner of Robertson Spinal Rehab & Associates. She provides personal one on one services specializing in spinal manipulation, physiotherapy, nutritional counseling in addition to developing personal rehab programs.