Back pain and muscle aches

Back pain

Backache is extremely common, and many Canadians experience this condition at least once during their life. Back pain can occur anywhere along the spine - in the neck, upper back, or lower back. Pain can originate in the muscles, bones, joints, or nerves of the spine.

Back pain can happen suddenly or be present often. It may be a dull ache or a sharp pain. Upper back pain may spread to the arm, and lower back pain may spread to the leg.

Back pain is not usually a sign of a serious medical problem, but you should consult your doctor if the pain is severe, or if it is accompanied by weakness in the arms or legs.

Prevent back injury

Back pain is often caused or aggravated by mechanical factors, so it is important to know how to protect your back from injury.

  • Lift heavy objects properly: Keep your back straight, bend your knees, and use the strength of your legs to lift. Do not bend over to lift a heavy object. Do not lift and twist at the same time.
  • Maintain good posture when seated: Sit straight up, preferably in a firm, high-backed chair. The weight of your body should rest on your thighs. If you sit for a long time, use a cushion to support the small of your back.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight: Excess weight can put stress on the spine. Information about healthy eating and weight loss strategies is available from many reliable sources. Click here to find resources.
  • Strengthen your core muscles: Strong abdominal and back muscles support your spine and can help prevent backaches. Talk to your doctor, a physiotherapist, or a qualified fitness trainer about the best exercises for you.
  • High heels: High heels can force the back into an unnatural position and can worsen a backache. If you wear high heels most of the time and have frequent back pain, consider wearing lower heels or flats most of the time and saving high heels for special occasions.

Muscle aches

Muscle aches are common and can also involve the tissues that connect muscles and bones—ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Most often, muscle pain is caused by tension or stress, overuse, or injury from exercise or physically demanding work. Your muscles can get stiff, inflamed and sore, so protect yourself from muscle injury and pain.

  • Warm up before exercise: Do some stretches before you exercise. Increase the intensity of exercise gradually.
  • Take a break: If you are working hard, or performing the same action over and over again — like typing at a computer or raking leaves — take a break, stretch, and walk around before getting back to work.