Sedentary Lifestyle and Back Pain in Young Adults

August 7, 2012

Youth Back Pain

Age is a known risk factor for back pain, and back pain is a common complaint among the elderly. However, recent studies have suggested that back pain in young adults might be just as common as back pain in the elderly. A study conducted in the United Kingdom found out that at least one third of young adults were indeed suffering from back pain. 

Like back pain in the general population, back pain in young adults can be caused by many factors. Besides competitive sports, sedentary lifestyles are major contributors to back pain in young adults. With the availability of a wide variety of entertainment programs and video games, today young adults, as well as kids, spend more time than ever before sitting inside the house watching TV and playing computer games. There is nothing wrong with watching some TV and occasionally playing computer games. But the problem is that for many young adults, playing computer games and watching TV can become addictive. As a result, they tend to sit in front of a TV or computer screen for long periods. Over time, this sedentary lifestyle can take a toll on their health, including the health of the back.

Sedentary lifestyle and youth back pain

It’s not surprising that more than one study has suggested that sedentary lifestyles are accountable for youth back pain, at least to certain degree. Why? Lack of adequate physical activity weakens the back muscles, which reduces the back muscles’ ability to support the spine and could eventually lead to back pain.

In addition, young adults living sedentary lifestyles generally do not actively practice good posture, which is essential to spinal health. For example, when watching TV, they tend to slouch back into the sofa, instead of sit straight with shoulders pulled back.

Furthermore, young adults living sedentary lifestyles generally have a higher chance to be overweight than active young adults. And the excess weight puts extra stress on the spine and could lead to back pain.

Prevent youth back pain

As we mentioned earlier, youth back pain can be caused by many factors. Recognizing these risk factors and appropriately addressing them can help prevent youth back pain. And the following are some of the things young adults can do to prevent back pain.

  • Live an active lifestyle that includes plenty physical activities
  • Warm up the body before exercise and stretch the muscles afterward
  • Keep proper posture
  • Take a walking and stretching break after sitting for a while
  • Reduce time spent in front a TV or computer