1. Clean out your purse.
Hanging a heavy weight off one side of your body stresses your skeleton as muscles try to compensate. Weigh your shoulder bag, backpack, or briefcase on the bathroom scale. If it's more than 10 percent of your body weight, pare it down.
2. Carry less cash.
Hey, big spender: Sitting on a fat wallet all day tweaks the spine and can compress a crucial nerve in the buttocks. That can cause sciatica—inflammation of that nerve. This problem is so common among men that it actually has a name: wallet neuropathy.
3. Reach for heat before pills.
When back pain strikes, try treating it with a wearable heat wrap rather than ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These pads provide 104-degree heat for up to eight hours. And one study published in Spine found they supply more relief than the maximum dose of nonprescription pain relievers and have longer-lasting effects.
4. Listen to your tailor.
Imagine this: You're getting your pants hemmed when your tailor mentions that one of your legs is shorter than the other. Well, pay attention—any discrepancy greater than about an inch might put a strain on your back. If the tailor detects a minor difference, try a Dr. Scholl's–type insole in your shoe or consult a podiatrist about custom inserts.
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5. Knees up.
When sitting at your desk or on a long flight, put something under your feet so your knees are slightly higher than your hips. This move eases pressure on the lower back.