These are the unexpected reasons you have chronic back pain, and what you can do about it

Back pain is a miserable experience. It can throw your whole body off balance (sometimes literally), leaving you uncomfortable and incapacitated. When back pain is chronic, it’s even worse. Days and weeks can go by before you experience any relief from it.

But in between grabbing a heating pad and some Tylenol, it would be a good idea to stop and think of the causes. Often times our aches and pains comes from an old injury or medical issue, but if you know those aren’t the causes, you have to ask yourself some important questions about why this chronic back pain just won’t go away – and whether there’s anything you can do to reduce it.

Here are eight unexpected reasons you have chronic back pain, and what you can do about it.

1You wear high heels a lot

We’ve all heard about suffering for beauty, but living in high heels is taking it too far. You may love those sky-high heels you wear out every weekend, but they could be the cause of your very real back pain. Try to alternate between your killer heels and some comfortable shoes that provide the kind of back support you need. And remember that nobody looks good when they’re grimacing from pain.

2You suffer from headaches on a regular basis

Do you suffer from migraines, then have to deal with the indignity of your back suddenly hurting as well? These two symptoms could be linked. Sometimes they show up thanks to PMS (because you don’t have to deal with enough as it is), but if your chronic backache and migraine are ongoing all month long, it might be time to see a doctor and figure out where exactly all this discomfort is coming from.

3You eat lots and lots of junk food

We all enjoy some downright unhealthy junk food from time to time, but if your diet is out of control your back could be suffering as a result. Unhealthy eating can lead to inflammation. The result? Chronic back pain. If you think your bad eating habits are the cause of your misery, load up on veggies and make sure to take a daily calcium supplement. Your back (and your overall health) will thank you.

4You smoke

As if you needed another reason to quit, smoking has been linked to increased instances of chronic back pain. Studies indicate that smoking cigarettes negatively impacts the part of the brain associated with feeling pain, making it more vulnerable to those negative sensations. The solution to this is obvious: quit smoking, and you’ll say goodbye to chronic back pain, among a ton of other negative side effects.

5You spend most of your day at your computer

Spending hours upon hours hunched over a computer screen? Not a good look, particularly if you’re worried about chronic back pain. Your poor posture and tensed shoulders are just asking for an uncomfortable spine. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll stop relying on our digital devices any time soon.

The solution? Remember to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your spine. And when you’re sitting at your desk, keep you back straight. Posture is important, particularly when it comes to keeping your back feeling great.

6You’re dehydrated

Drinking water is incredibly important for your overall health and well-being, and this includes your back. Your spine needs water to do the job of holding you upright as you go about your day, so when you skip out on drinking enough water, it can result in chronic back pain that’s leaving you feeling miserable.

If you have trouble remembering to drink all the water you should during the day, carry around a water bottle (or set reminders on your phone). It’s harder to forget that way, and you can refill it during the day. If plain old water strikes you as dull, throw in a few pieces of your favorite fruit for added flavor.

7You don’t exercise enough

It might be hard to fit the gym into your daily schedule. After all, you’re a busy person! But if you go too long without hitting the exercise machines, your back could start complaining — loudly. Without regular exercise your back muscles can weaken and stiffen, leaving you suffering and regretting your life choices. To avoid your spine and back muscles staging a revolt, remember to stick to a regular gym schedule.

6You exercise too much

Okay, we’re starting to sound a little like Goldilocks, but you have to find the amount of exercise that’s just right. Even when you’re at the gym, be mindful of your back. Don’t strain yourself too hard or you’ll risk pulling muscles. Remember to take days off from working your back and shoulders, and always be sure to have appropriate support on the exercises that strain your spine.

It might be helpful to look for workouts that will build up your back muscles without putting too much stress on them. Finding the right balance between work and rest is just what your exercise routine needs, and what your back is hoping for.

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