7 Not-so-obvious Causes Behind Back Pain

It’s a problem which is regularly associated with old age, yet look deeper into back pain and it becomes painstakingly obvious that there are countless other factors behind the condition.

Causes Behind Back Pain for men

Sometimes, it might be because of a serious health issue, while on other occasions it might be a lifestyle choice that can be rectified immediately.

Bearing this in mind, we’ll now mull over seven of the less obvious causes which can be behind this common problem.



Shoes that have seen better days

worn shoe soles cause back pain for men

Did you notice the “not-so-obvious” description we placed in the title of this guide? Well, all should have become clear with this suggestion as while your shoes are at the opposite end of your body, they can still have a direct impact on the state of your back.

If you’re donning a pair that have worn soles, you’re asking for trouble. This is something that can impact the arch support and ultimately provide you with a much less stable footing.

Therefore, the advice is simple; make sure your shoes are in good health. As long as that arch support exists, you don’t need to pop down to the shop for a new pair just yet.



smoking and back pain

We’ll say it again, but remember when we said “not-so-obvious”? Well, here goes again…

Smoking is another factor which has seemingly nothing to do with back pain but if you hone in on the subject closer, you’ll find that there is some correlation.

All of the health experts talk about how cigarettes harm your heart and lungs and considering some of the conditions that you become susceptible to, it’s really no surprise.

Something which slips under the radar is that every cell in your body is going to be starved of oxygen – causing muscles to weaken. The knock-on effect of this for your back is simple, it will start to hurt.

This isn’t some sort of “pie in the sky” myth, it’s something with substantial medical backing. In 2014, in the Human Brain Mapping journal, it was found that smokers are three times more likely of developing back pain than those who don’t engage in the habit.


Your mattress

mattress causing back pain

When you hear a mattress company telling you that you should change your mattress every ‘x’ years it’s not necessarily marketing spiel. Sure, they’re in the business to sell more products, but in the case of your back nothing can hinder it more than an old mattress that is out of sorts.

In short, a suitable mattress is going to be one that doesn’t promote air between your body and the fabric as you lie down. This is usually achieved by the mattress being slightly firm but over time, this will soften and cause a problem.

One way to completely get around this is to turn to memory foam. This is much firmer than traditional materials and will “attach” to the whole of your body through the night. Ultimately, it will support at all times – something that an old, or just an unsuitable mattress, is not able to provide.


Your diet

best diet for back pain

In regards to diet, most of us believe that what we eat only affects us in a cardiovascular-sort-of-way.

However, like you will have probably realized through the course of this article, everything has a knock-on effect. When it comes to your diet, if you’re ploughing through the calories the likelihood is that you’re going to be becoming overweight or worse.

Obesity is the biggest risk factor when it comes to your back; it will put excess pressure on it and all of the joints around it.

Therefore, if the scales are telling a bad story, it’s time to kick your current diet into touch and act before your back starts telling you it’s too late.


Your seat

back pain caused by sitting

This is one of those factors that most of us will probably agree with, yet few of us take action over.

Through the course of the day, most of us have the tendency to “slump” and create that ugly arch in our back. We know we’re doing it, we know it’s hindering our back significantly – but the rigors of the day mean that we carry on.

Well, it’s something that needs to change. Your seat is one of the principle reasons behind back pain, particularly as most office workers are in it for eight hours or more per day. Humans are designed to stand and walk, so being trapped in a chair with poor posture all day isn’t going to do anything for the health of your back.

As well as keeping that upright, strong posture, the other advice is to make sure that you get up every 45 minutes for a short walk. By doing this, you can relieve further tension from your back.


A stressful life

back pain caused by stress

It’s something that’s blamed for a lot of conditions and the experts firmly believe that stress, and depression for that matter, are related to back pain as well.

Once again, this is a factor which has some solid statistics behind it. A 2016 study in the General Hospital Psychiatry journal looked at the cases of 190,000 individuals, concluding that depression regularly correlated with back pain.

The reasons behind the link are unclear, although it’s understood that any pain experienced in the back or neck can be a warning sign for stress.

While stress is a complex topic at the best of times, there is some general advice which can help to ease it and hopefully minimize the “side effects” such as back pain. If you can exercise regularly, have solid sleep patterns, stick to a healthy diet and keep an active social live, these are the steps which can keep your stress levels managed. Ultimately, this should have the knock-on effect of helping your back.


Your man bag

a man bag can cause back pain

“Man bags” may have become quite in fashion over the years, but some would argue that they’re not doing a completely good job. In other words, while they may give you plenty of ticks in the fashion department, when it comes to your back they could be doing more harm than good.

More and more guys are starting to shove as many items in these bags as possible, whether it’s a heavy wallet or even umpteen books. The upshot of this is that more pressure is being added to your back, and the curve of your spine can gradually start to change. Additionally, some people experience neck pain after using these bags, as this is another area which they also add stress to.

We’re by no means suggesting that you should completely avoid a bag of this ilk, but you should at least ask yourself whether you need to lug it around each and every day. They are heavy, they are placed in a compromising position and are likely to cause some sort of damage over time. If you can limit their use, you’ll be doing your back the world of good and hopefully alleviating all of these issues. If you’re only turning to these bags for convenience, and to store the odd items, it’s safe to say that you can rely on other means that will put less strain on you.

About George Allen

George Allen – Author – An AFPA Certified holistic and preventative nutrition professional. George is a well known exercise physiology and sports nutrition expert, the co-founder of MensAnswer.com.
Syracuse University graduate: bachelor’s degree in nutrition/dietetics (B.S.) and a master’s degree in nutrition science with a concentration in counseling (M.A.)
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