After the common cold, nothing sends more people to the doctor than back pain. And if you are a woman, you’re more likely to experience back pain at some point than a man.
It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
The truth is, women carry a heavy burden. As a woman, you’re often responsible for taking care of your family and your home. You do most of the shopping, the cooking, and the cleaning.
You schedule doctors’ and dentists’ appointments. And many of you manage all this while still holding down a job!
And with more women retiring later these days, the rat race isn’t going to end anytime soon.
Let’s face it, women of every age have a lot on their plates…
So it’s not surprising that you may overlook minor aches and pains until your back pain becomes overwhelming.
And what’s worse, you may not even realize that things you do every day—little habits you probably don’t even think about—may be making your back pain worse.
5 Common Causes of Women’s Back Pain
- Overloading your purse or handbag. Experiencing shoulder pain, neck pain or upper back pain? The answer might just be in your overstuffed purse (along with the kitchen sink!).
A study done by British researchers earlier this year confirmed that heavy handbags are a major source of back pain and neck pain in women.(1) Especially large bags that hang off one shoulder (and chances are good that you always carry your purse on the same shoulder, right?).
In fact, research has shown that the damage caused by a heavy handbag can be similar to a sports injury!
Your body tries to compensate for the extra weight by lifting the should that the bag is hanging on. This throws your whole spine out of line. And because you carry your bag day-in and day-out, your body gets used to being off-balance and pain sets in.
The first thing you should do is take non-essentials out of your purse. Choose one day a week to clean out your handbag of items you don’t need to have with you every day. Also, consider switching to a backpack-type bag or a crossbody bag that distributes the weight more evenly. If you opt for a crossbody bag, switch sides every now and then.
- Wearing the wrong shoes. I may not be a woman, but if there’s one thing I know about women, it’s that they love their shoes! And while high heels may look great, they’re not doing any favors for your back.
When you wear high heels, you tend to arch your back more and tense up your muscles for better balance. The muscles up and down your spine are forced to work overtime. This can lead to chronic pain.
Backless shoes like mules, clogs and flip-flops aren’t any better, unfortunately, no matter the heel height. Your feet tend to slide around a lot in these types of shoes and that throws your body off-balance.
Now, I’m not telling you to never wear your favorite pair of shoes again. But I definitely suggest limiting their use to special occasions. You should spend the majority of your days in supportive shoes (they don’t have to be ugly, orthopedic shoes). Sneakers and other lightweight shoes with good arch support, stability and flexibility will keep your back pain at bay.
In fact, in one study, researchers gave comfy shoes to women with back pain. A year later, 80% percent reported they were feeling significant relief.
- Carrying a child on your hip. New moms often complain about back pain. And it’s no wonder! Most are carrying their babies and toddlers with one arm with the child sitting on their hip.
But it’s not just new moms that pay the price. Anyone—grandparents included—who carries a child around this way is at real risk for back trouble. It can cause a repetitive stress injury or repetitive strain injury (RSI).
When you carry a 20- or 30-pound toddler around while doing other tasks, your posture is poor. You stick one hip out, causing your whole body to be lopsided. You risk straining your back and the ligaments on one side of your body.
Infant car seats are a problem, too. Most of them weigh around 10 pounds WITHOUT a baby in them. Add a baby and you’re easily lugging around 25 or more pounds with just one arm.
They key to carrying a child without hurting yourself, whether the baby is in or out of the car seat, is to keep the child’s weight centered.
Hold the child in front of your body and have them wrap their legs around your waist. And avoid using the car seat to tote baby around. There are safer, back-friendly carriers available that help distribute your baby’s weight comfortably.
Text neck is the pain you get from looking down at your cell phone or other electronic devices. You might notice this as a sharp pain in your neck or a tightness through your shoulders.
Sitting hunched over a computer is no better. When we are working on our laptops or desktops or just surfing the internet, we tend to sit with our heads forward and our shoulders and upper backs are rounded.
And the more hours you spend at our computer, the greater your risk of developing these problems.
In a study of teens, frequent computer use was seen to increase the risk of neck, shoulder and low back pain. Just two or three hours of computer use a day was enough to increase neck and shoulder pain. Five or more hours was linked to low back pain.(2)
Not a teen, you say? Doesn’t matter. More than 80% of people over the age of 65 have cellphones nowadays and nearly 70% regularly use the Internet.(3)
Take regular breaks to stretch if you spend a lot of time on the computer. And be sure to follow these helpful ergonomically correct guidelines for using your computer.
- Not dealing with stress. Most of the women I know tell me they’re always “on the clock.” Whether it’s for a paycheck or taking care of the family. They’re always on the go. And what’s worse, they say they feel “guilty” about taking time out for themselves.
That’s a HUGE mistake.
Let’s face it. Life is stressful for all of us at times. But it’s how you deal with stress that makes all the difference.
I’ll give you an easy way to deal with stress in just a minute. But first I want you to understand why you need to manage your stress levels is you want to eliminate or prevent back pain.
Everyone knows that stress is bad for you, But most people don’t understand that there’s a direct link between stress and back pain.
When you are stressed, your muscles tense up. When your muscles tighten, it causes all sorts of problems in your body.
Tight muscles inhibit circulation. Your blood doesn’t flow through your body the way it should. This creates muscle imbalances.
Your cells become oxygen-deprived. Toxins and waste build up in your body and create trigger points. These knots are often painful to the touch and can cause muscles to “lock up.” This can pull your spinal column out of alignment, causing pinched nerves and nerve-based back pain.
One of my favorite ways to deal with stress is aromatherapy. I use essential oils like lavender, ylang ylang and roman chamomile in a diffuser to melt away stress. And this isn’t new-age voodoo…
Studies have shown essential oils to have powerful, positive psychological effects. And you won’t get the nasty side effects like low libido and weight gain that come with Big Pharma’s antidepressants.
Ease Back Pain Fast
But if you really want to learn how to live a pain-free life, I encourage you to order a FREE copy of my nook “The 7-Day Back Pain Cure.”
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- British Chiropractic Association. “Women’s back health suffering for the sake of fashion.” March 14, 2017.
- Eur J Public Health. 2006 Oct;16(5):536-41.
- “Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults,” Pew Research Center (pewinternet.org) May 17, 2017