8 Everyday Things You Do That Hurt Your Spine

Your spine. It’s responsible for bearing your weight, keeping you upright, and playing an important role in the central nervous system. When it’s out of whack, you could experience a number of issues including pain, numbness, or spasms.

Housed within the vertebrae of the spine is your spinal cord, which communicates messages between the body and brain. Your spine could be causing you suffering if its curvature is out of alignment, there’s damage to its discs, or it’s become unstable.

Some spine problems can be attributed to normal activities that put it under undue stress. And folks, these problems aren’t limited to just adults. Kids are impacted too! Check out this list of everyday things you may be doing that hurt your spine and how to address them. Watch your back!

  1. Carrying Heavy Bags

    Backpacks, overstuffed handbags, or shopping bags carried on one side of the body throws off the weight distribution of your body. Your spine tilts towards one side, and using this position on repeat can cause neck pain and spine damage.

    Try lightening your load or carrying your bag(s) close to the center of your body where you can maintain an even weight distribution. If you have more than one bag, divide them between both hands. For suitcase lugging, get one with wheels or keep it close to your center of gravity.

  2. Wearing High Heels

    Yes, your outfit is on point with those heels, but your posture is not. Walking or standing in heels causes the back and hips to flex, making you lean forward and knocking the spine out of alignment.

    Besides wearing flats or shortening your high heel wear time for the day, you can adjust the habit by doing leg stretches or wearing shorter heels. Making any of these changes will protect your lower back/spine, leg muscles, and feet.

  3. Craning for Your Device

    Ah, smartphones. Craning your neck downwards to game, text, or watch vids on your electronic device for extended periods of time can put undue pressure on your spine. A study published in Surgical Technology Journal indicates you could be putting as much as 60 pounds of weight on your neck each time you tilt your head to use a device.

    Hours of doing that over time adds up, and can lead to abnormal curvature, disc degeneration, and tissue damage in the spine. Take breaks so you can rest your neck or stretch it. Bring your device up to eye level or look at it solely with your eyes.

  4. Sleeping on Your Tummy

    Sorry, belly sleepers, but your back and neck pain could be a direct result of your sleep position. Sleeping on your stomach puts a lot of pressure on the spine’s arch and neck, and can lead to pain in the neck, back, or joints.

    Compressing the spine for hours in this position is also linked to numbness and tingling in the body. Sleeping on your back is better, but switching to side-sleeping is a happy compromise. If you sleep in the fetal position, be sure to tilt your chin upwards so that your neck is straight. Use a body pillow between your legs to take the strain off the lower back and hips, and to align the spine.

  5. Watching TV for Too Long

    It’s not the TV that’s the culprit, it’s your position. If you lie on the couch with your head on the armrest, especially for 30 minutes or longer, you are throwing your spine out of alignment. Doing so day after day can have long term effects.

    Sitting with your body in a slump, with your hand propping your head up, or with your head turned to the side also negatively affects the spine. It’s a good idea to change positions, stretch, or move your furniture to avoid posture problems.

  6. Lifting Incorrectly

    Most of us have been taught to squat when we lift something off the ground, using our legs rather than the waist or back. Too much strain from improper lifting can cause disc damage. When lifting an object above the shoulders, don’t twist the body as that can strain the spine. Also, use a step stool or small ladder to avoid injury. For heavier objects, have someone assist you.

  7. Doing Household Chores

    Vacuuming, mopping, and other chores are a good form of physical activity, but maintaining a good posture can prevent back pain and spinal strain. When doing dishes, you can either place one foot inside of a cupboard or rest a bended knee on a chair to keep your weight even and spine aligned.

    While doing chores liking mopping, shoveling, or vacuuming, avoid bending from the waist. Instead, position your body as if you’re doing a lunge, with one foot forward and the knee partially bent. This will help to keep your back straight and reduce the chance of you stressing the spine.

  8. Riding a Bike

    Cycling is great exercise, but riding a bike that’s not a good fit for you can aggravate your spinal column or cause pain. Neck or back pain! What’s key is to have the seat positioned above the handlebars so that you’re not overextending the body when you ride.

    If you’re prone to back or spine issues, try choosing either a stationary bike or one with long handlebars that are closer to the body. Look for a model that has shock absorption features and a cushy seat that will help you avoid leaning forward for long periods. You can also have a bike adjusted to fit your body!

Warming up your muscles before performing chores or other physical activities can reduce strain on the back. Take care of your posture! Whether you have back pain that comes and goes or is chronic, you may want to visit a chiropractor or your family doc for advice.

Were you aware that some of these activities are bad for your spine? Have you made adjustments to your posture or activities as a result of spine, neck, or back problems?


Cleveland Clinic