Daily Activities That Can Cause Back Pain

Daily Activities That Can Cause Back Pain


Back pain is one of the most common pain symptoms reported by millions of Americans each year. Chronic Back pain can develop from a nagging issue to debilitating pain that can cause you to miss work and your favorite hobbies. There are several common activities that can aggravate your back pain or cause you to develop back pain over an extended period of time. Take a look at some of the most common daily activities that can cause back pain and see how physical therapy can help you alleviate back pain.

11 Daily Activities That Can Cause Back Pain

Lack of Exercise

Going to the gym is an essential part of staying healthy and can be an effective way of building functional strength that can help you accomplish many activities throughout the day. Failing to stay active with extended periods of inactivity can contribute to weak muscles. This can make performing certain tasks more difficult or worsen the back pain that you are already experiencing.

Exercising regularly can help you build functional strength and reduce discomfort and pain associated with weak back muscles. Even if you are experiencing back pain, active rest is highly recommended. Before beginning any exercise program, consult with a qualified healthcare professional.

Cleaning the House or Doing Laundry

Cleaning activities which can include mopping the floor, vacuuming, dusting, and doing laundry may cause back pain. Many of these routine activities require you to bend over in a variety of different positions while engaging your back muscles to push, pull, or move to properly clean surfaces and items. These activities are usually done with a lot of repetition where your joints and tissues don’t get a “break” to recover. Even moving a heavy load of laundry from the washer to the dryer can potentially over-stress your back.

Most often while cleaning or doing laundry you will be bending forward for a prolonged period of time. Taking breaks and leaning or arching with your hands on the small of your back periodically may help to keep your back feeling loose.

Leaning While Getting Ready in the Morning

Morning routine activities that require you to lean over to get closer to your mirror can also cause back pain. These activities include shaving, brushing your teeth, or putting makeup on. Each one of these activities can subconsciously make you lean just a little closer to the mirror to get a better view and unintentionally cause you to put added stress onto your spine and back.

Instead of sacrificing your back doing these daily self-care activities, consider getting an adjustable mirror that you can move closer to you so you can keep an upright posture and don’t need to strain your back or eyes to see properly.

Wearing Improper Footwear

Footwear can have a big impact on a number of things including your walking pattern, foot-strike, and the support your shoes provide for your spine, knees, and back. Whether you’re wearing heels or shoes that are a size too big or small, painful shoes and footwear can cause you to subconsciously adjust your walking pattern to find comfort. Even minor adjustments to your natural walking pattern can cause a lasting effect on your back and cause discomfort for hours. Getting fitted with comfortable and supportive shoes can provide adequate cushioning and assist your natural gait.

Improper Lifting Technique When Exercising

Staying active and lifting weights to build strength is a great way to stay in good health, but using improper technique can lead to potential injuries. There are a number of exercises that are great for developing strength in key muscle groups and improving our overall health, but when performed incorrectly can be common culprits for back injuries including deadlifts, squats, and rows. Asking for help at the gym can ensure that you are doing these excellent movements correctly. Picking up and putting down weights or workout equipment with improper form can cause painful injuries and sideline you from future workouts.

Prioritize form and technique over weight when you’re at the gym. It’s better to get a good workout while using proper technique than to go beyond your body’s means to lift weight that is too heavy. In addition, consider working out with friends or family members who can assist with monitoring your form and can help hold you accountable throughout your workout.

Our licensed physical therapists are movement experts who can also provide additional guidance and education on the proper way to perform exercises to help you alleviate pain, reduce the likelihood of injury, and build functional strength. Schedule an appointment today at a nearby physical therapy clinic to see how our physical therapists can guide you on the proper way to perform exercises.

Sitting At Your Desk

Another daily activity that could be causing your back pain is sitting at your desk while you’re working, playing video games, or scrolling the internet. Sitting at your desk for extended periods of time can place increased stress on your back. The way you sit can also contribute to these added stresses. Some of the many reasons include a desk that is too tall or too short, a chair that doesn’t provide adequate spinal support or cushion, or accessories like a monitor or keyboard that cause you to lean too far forward or backward.

Sitting at your desk for extended periods of time can also increase the likelihood of developing additional health concerns including obesity, high blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

To alleviate some of the back pain that can develop while you’re sitting at your desk, consider switching to a standing desk which will allow you to raise and lower the desk’s position to stay at the correct height or give you an opportunity to work while standing for a bit. In addition, make sure that your computer accessories like your mouse, keyboard, and monitor are in appropriate positions to allow you to work comfortably without having to lean or worsen your posture. Another quick tip is to try and squeeze in a break every thirty minutes to stand up, stretch, and walk around a bit.

Poor Sleeping Positions

Sleeping positions can also play a pivotal role in the amount of back pain you experience. One night of sleep with inadequate spinal and back support could cause you to wake up with a stiff back or aggravate your existing back pain. Your mattress could also be causing you to sink and sleep in an improper position. Take the time to make sure that you’re doing all you can to sleep in a comfortable position with adequate head, neck, and back support to avoid waking up with back pain.

Carrying a Backpack or Heavy Bags

Backpacks, laptop bags, heavy grocery bags, and purses can all contribute to back pain. Heavy bags can cause uneven weight or strain on one side of your body compared to the other. For example, many individuals choose to carry a bag over one shoulder. Instead, try to carry and use bags or backpacks that will allow you to evenly disperse the weight across your back to alleviate imbalances from single side carries and reduce pressure on your back and spine.

Looking At Your Phone, Smartwatch, or Tablet

Phones, smartwatches, and tablets can all be contributors to back pain as we strain our necks and upper back to constantly look down to review notifications, browse applications, and respond to messages. According to Assurion, Americans check their phone almost 100 times a day which means once every ten minutes. Checking your phone and straining your neck and upper back to look down at your phone can cause you to strain your back from repetitive use and poor posture.


Your daily drive can also be a contributor to the back pain you experience. Whether it’s the bumpy roads on your commute or the position you sit in, your back pain can be caused by your driving posture. Driving for extended periods of time can create stiffness or discomfort in your low back or neck.

Adjust your seat position to sit properly in the middle of the seat and ensure that you can lean your back against the full seat without slouching or contorting your body. If your vehicle comes with additional lumbar support in the seats, consider making adjustments to bolster your back support to ensure that you remain comfortable while you drive.

Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition and eating habits can also contribute to your back pain. A lack of good nutrition can lengthen the time it takes to recover from injuries and also cause nutritional deficits in bone and muscle health. Weight gain and weight-related issues can also add extra stress on your joints and supporting structures which can contribute to your back pain. Try to eat healthy and focus on getting a well-balanced diet to avoid the many pitfalls and back pain that can stem from a poor diet.

Treat Back Pain with Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can provide effective treatment for those who experience back pain and over one hundred other conditions. Our licensed physical therapists are here to help you get back to doing the things you love most based on your unique needs and goals.

Request an appointment at a nearby physical therapy clinic to see how our physical therapists can help you alleviate your back pain!

  1. “Chronic Back Pain.” Health Policy Institute, 13 Feb. 2019, https://hpi.georgetown.edu/backpain/#:~:text=Back%20problems%20are%20among%20patients,limited%20in%20certain%20everyday%20activities.
  2. Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. “Sitting Risks: How Harmful Is Too Much Sitting?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Aug. 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005#:~:text=Research%20has%20linked%20sitting%20for,that%20make%20up%20metabolic%20syndrome.
  3. “Americans Check Their Phones 96 Times a Day.” Asurion, 9 Feb. 2022, https://www.asurion.com/press-releases/americans-check-their-phones-96-times-a-day/.
  4. “Healthy Eating Plate.” The Nutrition Source, 4 Oct. 2021, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/.
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