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Almost everyone will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. And while older folks can chalk it up to things like degenerative joint or disk disease, spinal stenosis, fractures relating to osteoporosis, and other aging-related effects of the spine, what about younger people? Here are five potential culprits.

1. Your phone (Your lifeline!)

It’s not just a distraction when we’re driving. Nope, your phone can also be messing with your posture. And if you’re in the habit of squeezing it between your chin and shoulder, that’s problematic too.

Tip: Get a headset if you’re guilty of the chin/shoulder thing, and remember that good posture counts even when you’re texting.

2. Your mood

It may surprise you, but feeling down or dealing with more serious mood disorders like depression can make it harder to effectively manage pain. You’re also less likely to do things like exercise or make nutritious food choices, and it can negatively impact your zzzz’s too. All of those things can contribute to low back pain.

3. Your shoes

The feet are the foundation of the body; they support its entire weight. If there isn’t enough support from the feet, various parts of the body—particularly the spine—will be exposed to a lot of stress, which can lead to a number of issues:

  • Poor posture and abnormal foot function
  • Low back, hip, knee and foot pain
  • Excessive shock transmission up through the body

An abnormal gait, or walk, also contributes to imbalances throughout your lower extremities, which include the knees, ankles and feet. When your feet hurt enough that it affects your gait, your whole body compensates and you’ll likely feel it in your lower back as well as your feet. Dr. McSweeney can check your shoes and gait to make sure they are not causing pain or weakness.

4. Your weak core

Weakness in your core will often present itself with low back pain. This is particularly true if your weak core is saddled with a pendulous abdomen.

Tip: Improving core strength with stabilizing exercises like planks may not give you the six-pack abs of your dreams, but it could pay off with reduced low back pain.

5. Your tight muscles

Short, tight muscles – think hamstrings, hip joint capsules and rotators – can all contribute to low back pain.

Tip: Stretching exercises can help lengthen and release those muscles, which is important for relieving some of that low back pain.

If you’re dealing with low back pain, a chiropractor can help you pinpoint the cause. Whether it’s any of the five we’ve listed here, or something else altogether, knowledge is power. Learn more about what you can expect during your first chiropractic experience with Dr. McSweeney, and book your first appointment here.

And here’s another tip – low back pain sufferers of all ages almost always benefit from advice to just keep moving. Movement causes the nociceptors (pain receptors) to fire, which reduces your pain. Even if you’re just walking, movement is what your body is designed to do. Sedentary lifestyles are doing us no favors, so try to balance all the sitting you do with plenty of functional movement.