Overexertion, injury and poor posture are commonly recognized sources of back pain, but your diet and eating habits also play a role in how your back feels. Overlooking important minerals and vitamins, losing weight too fast or eating in ways that leave you tense and unsatisfied can contribute to muscle pain and bone loss. You might be surprised at how habits like these can affect your spine, vertebral discs and back muscles:
1. Forgetting Your Greens
Green, leafy vegetables are a great source of calcium, magnesium and other minerals that help with nerve and muscle function. If you’re not eating enough veggies, you’re depriving your spine and back muscles of the minerals they need to maintain bone density and support your body properly. Green vegetables like spinach and broccoli also contain vitamin K, which helps your body utilize calcium.
2. Overdoing Your Diet
Although weight loss can relieve strain on your spine, dieting strenuously can drain you of energy, leaving you too tired to exercise and making you more likely to slouch. If you’re skipping meals in an effort to lose weight quickly, you’re depriving your back of crucial nutrients. Gradual weight loss, with a focus on overall health and fitness instead of the numbers on a scale, will help to keep your spine and back muscles strong.
3. Multitasking with Meals
Eating quickly while driving, working or talking on the phone can lead to hunched posture and poor digestion. The tension of trying to type on a computer or hold a cell phone to your ear while eating can cause pain in your neck, shoulders and upper back. Whenever possible, eat your meals in a relaxed setting, while sitting with your behind firm on the chair and your shoulders level over your hips. Maintaining alignment in your hips, spine and shoulders allows your digestive organs to function while preventing muscle tension in your back.
4. Skimping on Complex Carbs
Whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables will give you the sustained energy that you need to work out and maintain good posture. Whole grains and vegetables are a good source of magnesium and bone-building calcium, while many fruits contain the vitamin C that your body needs for tissue growth and repair. If you’re on a low-carb diet, make sure to include nutrient-rich, complex carbs with your proteins.
5. Too Much Soda
Nutritional research shows that the phosphoric acid in carbonated sodas can contribute to brittle bones. The phosphorous in your diet soda can lead to bone loss when it’s consumed in greater amounts than calcium. Bone degeneration in the vertebrae is a primary cause of back pain, hunched posture and height loss over time. Avoid diet soda if possible and choose back-strengthening drinks like mineral water, fruit juices or milk.
6. Too Much Caffeine
Excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to bone loss by interfering with calcium absorption. Caffeine also causes fluctuations in your energy, making it harder to balance work, recreation and exercise. If you load up on coffee or caffeinated soda all day, you might be inclined to crash in the evening instead of exercising. A short walk and a stretch break at midday can give you the energy boost that you need to make it through the afternoon, and your back will benefit from the movement.