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protect your back Archives - Atlanta Spine Clinic


Conyers office - Get directions

Decatur office- Get directions

Surgery Center - Get directions

McDonough office: - Get directions

Sandy Springs office: - Get directions

Make an Appointment

Or call: 678-369-6934

Send us an email

Things That Can Make Your Back Pain Worse

Living with back pain isn’t easy, but it’s also fairly common. As many as 8 in 10 Americans will deal with back pain at some point in their lives according to the American Chiropractic Association. 

This leaves many people searching for ways that they can help improve the pain they’re experiencing. Unfortunately, many of the everyday things you do may actually make your back pain worse without you realizing it.

What makes back pain worse? Here are just a few problematic behaviors and what you can do to avoid them and relieve your pain.

Being Sedentary

You know the phrase “use it or lose it”? Well, being a couch potato can lead to something called muscle disuse syndrome, causing muscles to lose endurance and strength. In the end, this makes the muscles that support your back less efficient, and doing simple tasks will take more work.

Weak muscles can also lead to falls, and those falls can lead to even less movement and more pain. It’s a giant snowball effect that can be remedied by simply getting more movement in your day. Starting very small, such as walking for five or 10 minutes, can be just what you need to jumpstart more activity and get your back feeling better.

Talk to your doctor about safe and effective exercise you can do to help improve your back pain and get your body moving once again.

Eating an Unhealthy Diet

Food, at its most basic, is fuel for your body. If you fuel your body with saturated fat and refined sugar, then you’re not giving it what it needs to work optimally. In fact, a poor diet will make your body less efficient, moving more tiresome, and pain worse.

Researchers are still working to understand the link between diet and pain, but what they know so far is that supplying your body with foods that can cause inflammation — such as high-fat, high-sugar foods — will only make the pain worse.

The key to using diet to help manage your back pain is to aim for balance. Make sure you eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your diet, and drink plenty of water, too — because pain perception can be worse if you’re dehydrated. 

You don’t have to go to extremes either. It’s okay to have a cheeseburger or a piece of cake every once in a while. The key to eating healthy is to make sure you enjoy everything in moderation, and make the bulk of what you eat each day whole foods that aren’t highly processed.


Stress is an unavoidable part of life. But if you don’t find a healthy outlet for it, you may find that your existing back pain gets worse. That’s because stress can cause anxiety, tense muscles, and agitation, all of which contribute to feelings of more intense pain.

The reason? When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This “stress hormone” can make inflammation worse and lead to more intense feelings of pain.

To deal with stress and keep it from making your back pain worse, you should practice techniques proven to help. Meditation, deep breathing, exercise, or simply jamming out to your favorite album can help you to relax and calm down when you’re feeling stressed.

Reducing stress can have a positive impact on your pain, both emotionally and physically, so find a way that works for you to shrug off the daily stresses of life and see how much better you feel – but don’t stress yourself out about it!


You may have heard that sitting is the new smoking, but that doesn’t mean smoking isn’t still one of the worst things you can do for your overall health and wellness — especially if you suffer from back pain.

Many studies have found that smoking makes chronic pain worse. Specifically, it will make the pain you’re already experiencing more intense. 

Just as bad, it increases the likelihood that you’ll develop chronic pain to begin with. The National Institutes of Health report that people who smoke are three times more likely to develop back pain chronically than those who don’t.

Why? Nicotine and tobacco reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your muscles. Your muscles need oxygen in order to function optimally and efficiently. Smoking will lead to fatigue and lung disorders and make it more difficult for your body to do what it was made to do — heal itself.

The solution to this problem is simple: stop smoking. Of course, if you’re a smoker, you know that’s easier said than done. Luckily, there’s a lot of help available to assist you in quitting. Talk to your doctor about how to get started.

Doing Too Much

Wait, didn’t an earlier item on the list say that being too sedentary was bad? Now being too active is a bad thing? We know — it’s confusing. If you suffer from chronic back pain, you essentially need to find the “Goldilocks Zone”: be active enough that your back pain doesn’t get worse without overdoing it and risking further injury.

Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be.

Basically, when you suffer from chronic back pain, you need to make sure you do a steady level of activity each day. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling great some days and “meh” on others — never push yourself too much.

Otherwise, you risk overdoing it and setting yourself up for several days of painful recovery. If you have a goal of losing weight or becoming more fit, pace yourself and increase the strenuousness of your workout only incrementally. Not sure whether a particular activity might be too much for your back? Talk to your doctor first.

At Atlanta Spine Clinic, we understand the challenges of living with chronic back pain. Contact us for help to get you started on your road to recovery.

3 Ways to Protect Your Back

Ever had that sudden twinge of back pain – so small, yet so utterly debilitating? How about a slow burn in your low back? You chalk it up to “just being sore,” but wonder: is it normal for the soreness to last weeks – or months? 

Your spine and the surrounding bone and soft tissues form a complex system protecting some of your most vital nervous and circulatory functions. Any number of factors (lifestyle, weight, age, injury, and more) can impact this system. 

When this protective system breaks down, it can lead to pain. Luckily, there are measures you can take now to avoid issues later. Atlanta Spine Clinic says protecting your back can be as easy as one, two, three! 

#1: Mind Your Mother, and Sit (or Stand) Up Straight

She told you and told you that slouching was bad for you. Well, mom was right! Poor posture can turn into back pain before you know it, especially if you’re required to sit or stand for long periods. 

So, the first way to protect your back? Mind your mother, and sit (or stand) up straight! What can you do specifically?

Don’t Slump in Your Seat

Don’t lean over that keyboard. Sit back from this screen and straighten up nice and tall. Make the text bigger if you need to. Position your chair so your knees are aligned with your hips. Oh, and your desktop shouldn’t be higher than a couple of inches above your waist.

For those having difficulty maintaining this posture for long, roll up a towel (or drop a lumbar pillow into your Amazon cart) and wedge it between the chair and where your back seems to arch. Now, roll your shoulders back and relax. And keep those feet flat on the floor for better circulation. 

No Slouching While Standing, Either

The same as sitting, when you’re standing, don’t slump. Roll those shoulders back and lift your chin an inch or two. Take a deep breath and try to maintain that chest lift. It should provide an immediate sense of openness. 

When you’re required to stand for prolonged periods, try these tips:

  • Wear well-cushioned soles with wide-enough shoes.
  • Stand on rugs, carpet, or another softer surface whenever possible.
  • Bring your work up to where you are instead of slumping over your work surface. 
  • Resting one leg at a time on a stool can also help reduce stress on your back.

In either position, you should never stay in the same place for too long. Take frequent breaks, stand up or sit down, stretch, and change positions often. 

What it really takes to maintain good posture, however, is a strong core.   

#2: Strengthen and Stabilize Your Core Daily

Core strength has been a fitness buzzword for a number of years now. If you’ve been to a class, you probably spent up to an hour focused on abs – but there’s a lot more to your core than that. 

Keeping all the muscles and tendons throughout your abdomen (front, sides, and back) properly toned can ensure no single muscle group is overworked. 

Improving your core strength also makes efforts to maintain proper posture a lot easier. Furthermore, making sure your core is strong can even help prevent other joint injuries, particularly to your knees.

Some of the most common core exercises should be incorporated into your daily routine to maintain a strong, healthy back.

Strengthen Those Obliques with Seated Side Bends 

In a chair with feet flat on the floor, place one hand behind your head with the other reaching for the floor. Lean toward the side as if you were going to touch the floor. 

Return to an upright position and repeat on the other side. This tightens and strengthens your oblique muscles and stabilizes your spine. Add weight as your strength increases.

Let the Bridge Strengthen Your Lower Hips 

Lie flat on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. Raise your hips toward the sky until you’ve made a straight diagonal line with your body. (Do not arch your back.) 

Inhale slowly for two counts, exhale slowly for two counts, then lower your hips back down to the floor. Repeat.

Playing Superman Is Super on Your Low Back 

Lying face down on the floor this time, stretch your arms out in front of your head. 

From here, raise all of your right extremities (head, shoulders, arms, legs) in tandem at least two inches off the ground. (Basically, pretend you’re flying like superman.) 

Hold this position until you’re tired. Then lower, rest, and repeat on the left. 

As you become stronger, you can try left and right (all extremities) at the same time. 

Leg Lifts Make Strong Lower Abs and Pelvic Muscles

Although there are a number of effective ways to perform leg lifts, all of them work generally the same way. You work your lower abdominal and pelvic muscles by lying flat on the floor with legs outstretched. Contract your abs and raise one or both legs no more than six inches from the floor and hold for a count of eight or longer. 

Ultimately, there are core strengthening and stabilization exercises appropriate for all fitness levels and ages. The best part is, there are all sorts of modifications to help protect your back while continuing to strengthen and stabilize. 

Talk to your spinal specialist for recommendations based on your personal needs.

#3: Supplement Your Exercise Routine with Professional PT

While you’re working on your core strength at home or in the gym and practicing good posture throughout your day, sometimes a little professional advice and assistance are all you need.

Physical therapy combines specific exercises, various stretches, and hands-on manipulation techniques that target areas that need more strength and stabilization. Physical therapists teach proper sitting, standing, and other movements that will help you maintain spinal alignment and alleviate unnecessary strain. 

Here at Atlanta Spine, we are surgical experts in treating the spine. At the same time, we are firm believers in pursuing non-surgical treatment whenever possible.

Even a minimal physical therapy plan spanning a few weeks can supplement your homecare routine tremendously. This extra care may be just what you need to protect your back from pain and injury over the long haul.

Get ahead of back pain. Incorporate these best practices into your daily routine. 

Even if you already suffer from pain and discomfort, it’s not too late. Let Atlanta Spine get you on track to a healthy and pain-free back!