Maintaining a healthy weight. Excess pounds shift your center of gravity forward, creating added stress on your lower back. Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight, if you are overweight, can reduce your risk of back pain. If you already have back pain, losing weight may make it better. Need help losing weight?

Check out the Weight Loss Guide.

Eating for strong bones. Getting enough calcium and vitamin can help keep bones strong and reduce your risk of osteoporosis, which can lead to painful and sometimes debilitating fractures of the vertebrae.

• Calcium. If you are between the ages of 19 and 50 you need 1,000 miligrams (mg) of calcium per day. If you are 51 or older, you need 1,200 mg daily.  If you already have osteoporosis, your doctor may recommend that you get more calcium. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, canned salmon with bones and green leafy vegetables. If you don't get enough calcium in your diet, speak to your doctor about a calcium supplement.

Learn how to choose a good calcium supplement.

Learn more about calcium and bone health from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

• Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for your spine because it helps your body use the calcium you get from foods to make bones stronger. Your body makes vitamin D in response to sunlight on your skin. If you spend little time outdoors or wear a strong sunscreen when you go out, you may need more than your body makes. Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolks and fortified grain products. You may also want to ask your doctor if you need a vitamin D supplement.

Learn more about vitamin D.

Learn how vitamin D and calcium can cut your fracture risk.

Learn six things you can do to reduce your osteoporosis risk.

Wearing proper shoes. Sometimes preventing or easing back pain is as simple as wearing the right shoes, particularly if you spend a lot of time standing or walking. Shoes with high heels and uneven wear, for example, can throw off your posture and, in turn, place unnecessary stress on your back.

Read how to select summer sandals.

Choose the right walking shoe.

Not smoking. Research has shown a high prevalence of spinal stenosis and back pain among smokers. One suspected reason is that smoking damages the blood vessels that supply the back.  In addition to that, cigarette smoking is bad for your bones. It is a risk factor for osteoporosis, and it if you need back surgery, it can interfere with healing. Spinal surgeries performed in smokers are significantly more likely to fail than the same surgery in nonsmokers.