©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Fresh fruits and whole grains will keep your body energized.

Diet and Back Pain

Most people see no relation between what they eat and their back's strength and health. Just like the engine in your car, your body needs the proper nutrition so that the muscles can continue to move and support the spine. If your car runs out of gas, the engine quits and the car cannot move. If you have not eaten, your back muscles may quit working for you; they can weaken, tighten up, and become more susceptible to fatigue-related injury.

Eat Power Foods

Clearly, your muscles need food to maintain their vigor, but not just any food. The kind of food you eat matters. In our fast-paced society, eating right can be difficult. Fast food may satisfy your hunger and may even give you an energy boost, but your muscles and your body need power foods. Power foods are the ones that provide a great deal of energy slowly, over the course of a few hours. They can keep your muscles constantly supplied with the fuel they need to maintain the support and protection of your spine. Power foods are high in complex carbohydrates and low in simple sugars and fat and contain an adequate amount of protein.

Vitamins and minerals are also important; they play a critical role in your body's ability to release the energy from foods and in keeping your body healthy. Remember to get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong and resilient.

Try to make fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat breads, and different forms of noodles and pasta the majority of your diet. Don't drown these foods in sauces, butter, dressing, or other forms of fat. Finally, limit soft drinks, candy bars, ice cream, cookies, and other sweets, because they provide too much energy too quickly for the body to use. Many times, this excess energy gets converted into fat and stored in your body in places you probably don't want it.

Stay Energized

Some people eat the right kinds of food, but they don't eat frequently enough to maintain their energy level and keep their back muscles working. The most important meal of the day is breakfast, because as you sleep, the energy stored in your liver is depleted by the brain and other organs. When you wake up, about 95 percent of this reserve is gone. Your muscles and the rest of your body are just about to run out of gas, and weakened muscles can quickly become injured muscles. So eat a good breakfast, and give your body and back energy they need for the morning.

Now that you've started the day with a full tank of gas, you must maintain your energy level throughout the day. The body actually works better and weight control is easier if you eat meals when you are hungry. You probably are conditioned to think that after breakfast, you should not eat until noon. However, your body may actually need the energy at 10 A.M.; if you wait until noon, you are starving your body for two hours and increasing the risk of a fatigue-related injury. This does not necessarily mean that you should eat constantly all day, nor does it mean that every time you are hungry you should sit down to a full meal. A slice of whole-wheat bread, a piece of fruit, or some low-fat yogurt may work just fine to keep your energy up and tide you over until you can have a complete meal.

Most people still believe in the three-meal diet, but a normal body should actually consume five or six small meals per day rather than two or three large ones. Research has shown that the routine of smaller, more frequent meals is much more effective in meeting the body's energy needs and reducing the storage of body fat than the traditional three-meal diet. Just be sure that you choose healthy foods for your six small meals.

As with all muscle tension, the amount of stress in your life can greatly affect how tight your back muscles are. For tips on how to chill out and stay mellow, move on to our final section.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.