6 bad habits that are hurting your back

It's human nature to develop bad habits, but some of them could be the cause of your backaches. Here are six bad habits that cause back pain and how you can work to break them:

1. Not exercising
If you've made a habit out of skipping the gym and have back troubles, now's the time to start going. Regular workouts help build strength in your muscles, which can help you maintain proper posture and fight off pain.

"The failure to perform any exercise, particularly abdominal strengthening exercises, may lead to poor posture and increased low back pain," said Nancy Epstein, the chief of neurosurgical spine and education at Winthrop-University Hospital in New York, in an interview with Everyday Health.

If you want to start a beneficial fitness regimen, focus on activities that improve your core strength, cardiovascular health and flexibility.

2. Binge-watching TV
In the age of streaming, everyone loves to binge their favorite shows in one sitting. However, this sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to your back. If you're hanging out on the couch for long hours, you're probably sitting in a slouched position with your lower back flexed – a position that can lead to back pain. To avoid this discomfort, try to limit how much TV you watch in the first place. If you must binge, take breaks to stretch and move to reduce the strain on your muscles.

3. Slouching
If you sit at a desk for long hours, posture is even more important. It's all too easy to slouch forward, but that position puts a strain on your spine and muscles. After a while, bad posture can actually alter the shape of your spine. To improve how you sit, make sure your hips are slightly higher than your knees and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. An ergonomic office chair will support your lower back and keep your spine straight. If possible, take frequent breaks so you can stretch and give your body a much-needed rest.

4. Smoking
Smoking is already considered a bad habit for so many reasons, but it can also worsen your back pain. Nicotine reduces blood flow to the discs in your spin and smoking minimizes calcium absorption, inhibiting bone growth. For these reasons, smokers are at a higher risk of fracture.

5. Eating poorly
It's true that what you eat has an effect on how your body responds to pain. Certain nutrients contribute to your bone strength, like calcium and vitamin D, so not getting enough of these in your diet can worsen how you feel. Substances like caffeine or processed foods containing a lot of hydrogenated oils can promote inflammation, so you should avoid consuming these in excess. Instead, eat more fruit, vegetables, protein like chicken or fish and whole grains.

6. Carrying heavy bags
If you frequently carry a heavy purse or briefcase, you're not doing your back any favors. It might be convenient to keep a lot of your belongings in one bag, but you should try to pare down what you tote along. That weight throws off your body's balance and can cause serious damage over time. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that your bag should weigh no more than 10 percent of your body weight. If you need to carry a lot, try splitting it between two bags that you carry on each shoulder to even the weight distribution.

If any of these bad habits is giving you back pain, you should schedule an appointment with a professional chiropractor today.