12. You Hold a GrudgeTo err is human. To forgive could make your aching back feel simply divine.
When researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 58 women and men with chronic lower-back pain, they found that those who practiced forgiveness experienced less anger, resentment, depression — and aches. "Our emotions, muscle tension, and thoughts can directly influence the strength of our pain signals," says researcher James W. Carson, PhD.
Fix it: Forgiveness isn't a once-and-done act; it involves choosing, again and again, to replace anger and resentment with understanding toward someone who has done you wrong. Try this: First imagine someone you love. Think, May this person be at ease, happy, healthy, safe, and secure. Repeat, imagining yourself, then someone you don't know personally. Finally, bring to mind someone for whom you don't have good feelings.
13. You Don't Veg Out EnoughIt's not all in your head — chronic or acute stress can directly trigger back pain.
When you're under the gun, your whole body clenches up, including the muscles in your neck and back. But muscles that contract need to relax eventually, says Sinett. If you're stressed all the time and those muscles stay tight, it can eventually cause major pain.
Fix it: Sometimes even just realizing that stress may be at the root of your pain can help, says Sinett. Then you can prioritize ways to calm down each day, be it through exercise, laughing with a friend or partner, reading a good book, etc. One particularly helpful therapy, research shows, is listening to music.
In an older Austrian study of 65 people who had herniated disks, researchers found that a combination of music and relaxation imagery significantly reduced lower-back pain. Everyone got standard medical care (painkillers, physical therapy), but half also listened to music and performed relaxation exercises every day. After 10 days, the music group reported less pain while climbing stairs, getting out of bed, and even sleeping. After 21 days, the music group's overall pain was more than 40% less than the nonmusic group. "Music helps reduce stress hormones and muscular tension," says researcher Franz Wendtner, a psychologist at the General Hospital of Salzburg.
14. You Watch Too Much TVParking yourself in front of the tube for hours and hours a day doesn't make your back very happy.
For one thing, excess TV time is probably cutting into exercise time, and we've already explained how important exercise is to prevent/reduce back pain. In one Norwegian study of teens, those who sat in front of TV or computer for 15 hours a week or more were 3 times as likely to have lower-back pain as their more active counterparts (the average American teen watches 3 hours of telly a day). "They sit with the low back flexed — really hunched over — for hours," explains lead researcher Astrid Noreng Sjolie, PhD, a physiotherapist at Hedmark University College in Norway.
Fix it: Limit TV to shows you really want to watch, instead of idly channel surfing. And instead of fast-forwarding through commercials, so some stretches or strength moves during the breaks, which will prevent muscle strain from sitting still too long. If you have a kid complaining of back pain, make sure he walks at least 1 mile daily; this can cut back pain in half and give his still-developing spine a chance to stretch out.