In his classic book on successful relationship building – Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus – author John Gray discussed the differences between the sexes and how those differences can enhance, rather than detract, from a relationship. Women and men are indeed different on an emotional level, and they also differ in their muscles and joints, susceptibility to back pain due to bone disease and other environmental and workplace factors.
According to several online resources, including this article, when it comes to chronic back pain, men and women are not created equal. Women are over-represented in the ranks of those with back pain. “Differences in pelvic structure, hormonal factors, and the impact of pregnancy are often cited to explain why women bear the brunt of chronic pain.”
Non-medical reasons, such as improper lifting technique and poor posture among women, are also responsible for their chronic back pain. For example, in a study conducted among men and women employed in material handling jobs it was determined that men and women used different lifting techniques. The women tended to use a more dangerous stoop-lift, with their torso more bent and their knees less bent than the men and this resulted in a greater number of back injuries among the female workers. Researchers noted that this tendency was attributable to the men having greater leg and arm strength.
It is clear that women have unique challenges for avoiding back pain and injuries. However, these can be met with gender-specific, back-health strategies.
Seven Ways for Women to Avoid Back Pain
According to Dr. Bosita an orthopedic spine surgeon in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and physician on the medical staff at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery, there are 7 things that women can do to relieve back pain. Here are his tips:
#1 Stop smoking
Many experts have noted that, in addition to being a nasty habit, smoking can also cause back pain. Why? Nicotine restricts blood flow to the discs in the spine. This can cause them to dry out, crack, or rupture. Smoking also reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood, which causes a reduction in nourishment to the entire body and specifically to the muscles and tendons in the back.
#2 Avoid heavy lifting
As the study noted above suggests, improper lifting is a common cause of back pain. However, even lifting relatively light objects can still cause back strain and pain. Carrying a child or even a bag of groceries can lead to muscle strain. It’s important to bend at the knees when picking up an object, try to carry less weight and make sure it is evenly distributed.
#3 It’s gotta be the shoes…right?
Fashionable high-heeled shoes may look great, but they can wreak havoc on a woman’s back. Wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes can reduce back strain when standing and walking. Shoes with heels that that are less than one-inch are optimal for preventing back pain.
#4 Stand up straight
Many women have bad posture and this can cause back pain. Bad posture puts strain and stress on your back and can change the architecture of your spine. Try to avoid rounding your shoulders, slouching, or bending sideways when standing and hunching over a computer for hours at a time.
#5 Load up on calcium, vitamin D and barbells
Post-menopausal women are extremely susceptible to osteoporosis and this weakening of bones can cause back pain and, in some cases, bone fractures. Consuming more calcium, (found in milk, yogurt, leafy vegetables and supplements), and vitamin D (found in fish, eggs, cheese and beef liver) will help build stronger bones. Weight training will also help build bone strength and help women avoid the pain of osteoporosis.
#6 Add another pillow
Sleeping on one’s back puts pressure on the spine, and this can cause back pain. Elevating the legs slightly by placing a pillow under the knees can relieve the pressure and reduce the likelihood of back pain.
#7 Strengthen the core
Women who exercise regularly, with emphasis on strength training of the core muscles can have fewer muscle strains and back pain than those who don’t. It’s a good idea to incorporate exercises that target the back and abdominal muscles at least two times per week to develop a stronger, more flexible back.
If you have experienced back pain that lasts for more than two weeks, contact us for an appointment with a physician on our medical staff. When you’re pain-free, you can fall in love with your body again.
Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery is a joint venture hospital owned by Texas Health Resources and physicians dedicated to the community and meets the definition under federal law of a physician owned hospital. Physicians on the medical staff are not employees or agents of Texas Health Center for Diagnostics & Surgery. They are independent solo practitioners or members/agents of an independent physician group.