Steps to lower the risk of developing back pain consist mainly of addressing some of the risk factors.
Exercise - regular exercise helps build strength as well as keeping your body weight down. Experts say that low-impact aerobic activities are best; activities that do not strain or jerk the back. Before starting any exercise program, talk to a health care professional.
Smoking - a significantly higher percentage of smokers have back pain incidences compared to non-smokers of the same age, height and weight.
Body weight - the fatter you are the greater your risk of developing back pain. The difference in back pain risk between obese and normal-weight individuals is considerable.
Posture when standing - make sure you have a neutral pelvic position. Stand upright, head facing forward, back straight, and balance your weight evenly on both feet - keep your legs straight.
Posture when sitting - a good seat should have good back support, arm rests and a swivel base (for working). When sitting try to keep your knees and hips level and keep your feet flat on the floor - if you can't, use a footstool. You should ideally be able to sit upright with support in the small of your back. If you are using a keyboard, make sure your elbows are at right-angles and that your forearms are horizontal.
Lifting things - the secret for protecting your back when lifting things is to think "legs not back". In other words, use your legs to do the lifting, more than your back. Keep your back as straight as you can, keep your feet apart with one leg slightly forward so you can maintain balance, bend only at the knees, hold the weight close to your body, and straighten the legs while changing the position of your back as little as possible. Bending your back initially is unavoidable, when you bend your back try not to stoop or squat, tighten your stomach muscles so that your pelvis is pulled in. Most important, do not straighten your legs before lifting; otherwise you will be using your back for most of the work.
Do not lift and twist at the same time. If something is particularly heavy, see if you can lift it with someone else. While you are lifting keep looking straight ahead, not up nor down, so that the back of your neck is like a continuous straight line from your spine.
Moving things - remember that it is better for your back to push things across the floor, rather than pulling them.
Shoes - flat shoes place less of a strain on the back.
Driving - it is important to have proper support for your back. Make sure the wing mirrors are properly positioned so you do not need to twist. The pedals should be squarely in front of your feet. If you are on a long journey, have plenty of breaks - get out of the car and walk around.
Your bed - you should have a mattress that keeps you spine straight, while at the same time supporting the weight of your shoulders and buttocks. Use a pillow, but not one that forces your neck into a steep angle.