Prevent lower back pain

Siski Green / 04 November 2015

From your oversized handbag to your oversized waistline, there are several reasons why you suffer with lower back pain. Find out how to prevent it.



It affects most of us at one time or another – almost half the UK population reported lower back pain lasting for at least 24 hours at one point or another in the year, according to backcare.org.uk – but it’s easy to prevent.

You just need to be aware of the things you can do to strengthen your muscles to help them cope with the pressure they’re under, and also take note of the risky behaviours you have that might trigger the pain. 

Learn more about self-help tips for lower back pain

Work those core muscles

The muscles you want to build aren’t just in your lower back, they are all the other muscles that support those muscles ensuring they don’t have too great a workload - the core muscles.

These stabilise your back, making sure you don’t bend it into potentially damaging positions, and they help spread the workload so that no one muscle groups bears the weight of whatever exercise or activity you’re doing.

So focus on exercises that work your abdominals, pelvic, chest and back muscles. 

Take a look at our stomach-strengthening exercises

Lose weight

If you’re heavy in the chest area that can create back pain and even if you’re not, being overweight in general puts excess pressure on your muscles that are working hard to hold you upright.

So if you want to make sure you don’t have back pain, get rid of those excess pounds.

Do it slowly, losing no more than 2 pounds a week, and you’re far more likely to keep it off long-term too. 

For inspiration and information about losing weight, visit our weight loss section

Deal with your stress

We all have stressors in life, the key is in how you respond to them and treat the symptoms.

By far the best way to reduce stress is to exercise. Head to your local pool for the best possible de-stressing type of exercise – a study conducted by research company Ipsos MORI found that 74% of people who went swimming found it helped release stress and tension. 

Learn more about what stress does to your health

Lift carefully

By far the most common way people injure their lower backs is while lifting heavy objects.

Never bend from the hips to pick something up but always bend your knees first. That way you use your whole back and your leg muscles to lift rather than just your upper body. 

Change the way you sleep

An old mattress can cause havoc to your back health. While you’re moving around during the day, changing positions, you might spend several hours in the same position on your bed which means that if your mattress isn’t supporting your spine and head, you’re not giving your body a chance to rest.

If your mattress is older than ten years, get a new one. And look for one that’s not too soft and not too hard – that will give you body the right support.

You can also try sleeping with different pillows (fewer/more/firmer/softer) and sleeping on your back instead of on your side to help your spine lengthen as you sleep. 

Put down the handbag

What’s in that huge bag that you lug around everywhere? Your life, probably. Well, it’s time to clear out some of that stuff inside because your handbag could be putting your spine into an awkward position causing back ache.

This happens because without meaning to, you automatically curve your spine and raise your shoulder to hold the bag. If it’s heavy, that effect is obviously a lot greater. 

Sit better

You’d think that sitting down puts less pressure on your back than standing, but the opposite is true.

Make sure you take regular breaks to ease the pressure on your back and try sitting back a little. Not slouching, but leaning back into the chair back to allow it to support your weight.

And make sure there is spine support in the lower-back part of the chair - put a small cushion or rolled up towel there if necessary.

Sit more!

Most of us spend enough time sitting, but if you’re a busy-bee type who’s always on their feet, make sure to take time out to rest your back too. Take time for a bath or rest on the sofa. Being active is great but your body needs time to rest too. 

Go for yoga

Research from the University of Washington shows that regular yoga sessions can ease the symptoms of lower back pain more quickly than other exercises such as walking for example.

Why? The researchers theorise that yoga doesn’t just build up core muscle strength through movement, the deep breathing aspect also helps relax and strengthen core body muscles.

Learn more about yoga and how it benefits your health

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.