How to Prevent Lower Back Pain - PT Effect

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain

Talk to your physical therapist about these tips
Read Time: 6 minutes
Aug 29, 2022

Lower back pain is one of the most common types of pain that people experience. Millions of people report lower back pain at any given point in time. It can range from mild to severe and even interfere with your ability to perform everyday tasks. Fortunately, there are some methods you can use to help prevent lower back pain.

Method #1


a group of people in workout clothes doing tai chi in a park

Sometimes, back pain occurs because the muscles in the back aren’t strong enough. Exercise can, in some situations, help existing pain as well as prevent it in the future. Workouts based on yoga or tai chi can help balance and posture as well as strengthen core and back muscles. If you have chronic back pain, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure the exercises you choose are right for you and your back.

How Does Tai Chi Help Your Back?

Tai chi can help to improve your posture and balance. Additionally, it strengthens your abdominal and pelvic muscles, which are used to support the back.

How Does Yoga Help Your Back?

Yoga also helps with balance and posture. On top of that, yoga also strengthens and stretches the back muscles and the muscles that support the spine.

Method #2

Lose Weight

a woman wearing her old jeans that are too big showing off weight loss

If you’re overweight or obese, having extra weight around your stomach and back can put pressure on your back muscles, causing pain. If you can lose weight to be within the ideal weight range for your height and size, then you may be able to reduce the risk of or even prevent back pain.

Method #3

Choose the Right Sleeping Position

a woman sleeping on her side with her knees bent

When you sleep, you spend many consecutive hours in the same position. If this position isn’t good for your back, then it could contribute to your lower back pain. Sleeping on your side with your knees slightly bent is often a recommended position. If you sleep in a different position, you can strategically place pillows to help support your back. For example, if you sleep on your back, placing pillows under your lower back and your knees can help to reduce pain.

What Is the Worst Sleeping Position for Back Pain?

Sleeping on your stomach generally isn’t recommended because it’s the worst position for back pain. For those who must sleep this way, a pillow under the hips can help to lessen or prevent back pain.

Method #4

Practice Good Posture

a side-by-side comparison of a woman standing with poor posture next to the same woman standing straight with good posture

Good posture is essential for preventing back pain. If you have poor posture, then you may be putting more strain on your back muscles, as well as causing additional wear and tear on your joints and ligaments. Sitting up straight and practicing proper posture can help to reduce back strain and also use your back muscles more efficiently and effectively.

Method #5

Use the Right Desk Chair

a desk chair with good lumbar support

Not all desk chairs are made equal. If you work at a computer or otherwise spend a lot of time every day sitting in the same chair, it’s important to make sure that you have the right one. Make sure that you’re getting good lumbar support. Good chairs will provide this, but if your chair doesn’t, then a pad or pillow meant for lumbar support can work instead.

Method #6

Position Your Desk Properly

a computer monitor and keyboard on a desk

The position of your deck, computer monitor, and keyboard can impact your posture. The monitor should be positioned so that the top of the screen is above your natural eye level by about 2 to 3 inches. The keyboard should be beneath the desktop if possible. This is because typing at just below chest height can negatively impact circulation and your joints and also lead to back pain.

Method #7

Reduce Laptop Usage

someone typing on a laptop that is on a desk

While laptops are very useful when you’re traveling, you shouldn’t work with one on your lap for too long. This could cause you to hunch and bend your neck forward, which can result in back pain. If you do need to use a laptop for a long period of time, put it on a desk and make sure you’re using good posture.

Method #8

Avoid Using Your Smartphone

a girl hunched over to look at her smartphone

Smartphones and other mobile devices are now a major part of everyday life. However, many people use poor posture when using one, sitting hunched over with their heads bent down. Either avoid using your smartphone for long periods of time or make sure that you hold the phone up so that you’re not bending over to see it.

Method #9

Stop Smoking

a person holding a smoking cigarette

If you smoke, now is the time to stop. Smoking can be bad for your health in general but can also increase the risk of back pain. This is because smoking affects the flow of blood and its nutrients to the spine.

Method #10

Be Careful Lifting Heavy Objects

a woman lifting a heavy box from the legs instead of the back

Lifting something incorrectly, especially if it’s heavy, could cause strain on your back. It’s important to lift from the knees and not directly from the back muscles. Plus, make sure not to twist or you could strain your back muscles. If it’s possible to just push an object instead, that’s the best option for your back.

Method #11

Wear the Right Clothing

the legs of a woman wearing high heels and skinny jeans

Certain articles of clothing can contribute to back pain. High heels, for example, are not good for your back. They change where your body’s center of gravity is and can actually strain your back muscles. On top of that, clothing that is too tight, like jeggings or skinny jeans, can prevent you from easily bending or walking and could also pose a problem for your back.

Method #12

Choose the Right Bag

a man with a briefcase over his shoulder

If you have to carry a bag like a purse, briefcase, bookbag, or laptop bag, it’s important to choose the right one. Something that has a wide strap that can go over your shoulder is essential. Cross-body bags better distribute the weight across your back instead of just to one side. It’s also important to lighten the load occasionally. Every now and again, make sure that you’re going through what you’re carrying around and removing any unessential items.

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Mark Shulman

Dr. Mark Shulman

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), FAAOMPT, COMT, CSCS


Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists.

Mark Shulman

Dr. Allison McKay

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), PRPC


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