I’d say 20-30% of patients we see at the clinic are being referred for back pain. It can be different conditions including spinal stenosis, bulging discs, sciatica, and other back issues. It can be very unpleasant, where you can experience pain that radiates to the leg, at times burning, tingling, or at times would feel like pins and needles all the way down the leg.
About four out of five Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It can take many forms, but lower back pain is the most common. Fortunately, there are many simple lifestyle changes you can make to avoid an aching back.
DAYTIME LIFESTYLE CHANGES
1.Maintain a healthy body weight.Being overweight strains your back and disrupts your balance. Abdominal fat is especially problematic. Spot reducing is a myth but your midsection will usually slim down along with the rest of your body when you lose excess pounds.
2.Exercise regularly. Yoga is a great way to improve your posture and flexibility and strengthen your muscles. Any physical activity can help fight inflammation by increasing the flow of blood and nutrients to your back.
3.Eat more calcium.Strong bones help protect you from osteoporosis, a leading cause of back pain, especially for women. Eat your yogurt and leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale.
4.Follow safety guidelines at work. Ergonomics is now commonplace in workplaces due to the high cost of injuries. Back injuries are the most common type of workplace injuries. Talk with your employer about job design features that will keep you productive and safe. You can opt for an ergonomic chair or a high – low office desk that allows you to stand in between tasks.
5.Practice good posture.Make it a habit to press your lower abdomen against your spine. Keep your shoulders held back and relaxed. Hold your head up.
6. Observe Good Sitting Posture.Try to use an adjustable chair that will give you all the support you need. Prop a pillow against your lower back if needed. Keep your knees a little higher than your hips. Change positions or take a brief walk frequently.
7.Observe Proper and Safe Lifting.Most people have surely heard the statement, “Lift with your legs, not with your back”. This is to make sure you are using the most powerful muscle in the body to lift, and not the smaller and weaker back muscles. I have had many patients rupture a disc from lifting and twisting the trunk.
Bend down at the knees and lift with your legs to avoid putting the whole load on your back. Carry heavy objects close to your body. Get help if an object is too heavy for youto lift alone.
8.Dress comfortably.Stiletto heels and heavy handbags can cause knee and back pain. So can overstuffing your pockets or wearing anything two sizes too small. Enjoy dressing up for special occasions but ensure your everyday wardrobe allows a full range of movement and your tote bag stays under 10 percent of your body weight.
NIGHTIME LIFESTYLE CHANGES
1.Select the right mattress for you.A moderately firm mattress usually works best because it adapts to the natural curves of your spine. If you have a firm mattress, an inch or two of padding on top may help.
2.Sleep on your side.Sleeping on your side with your knees slightly bent helps protect your back. Even better, put a small pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned.
3.Sleep on your back.Sleeping on your back is also good. Stick a small pillow under your knees to maintain the curve in your lower back. Use enough pillow to position neck comfortably, not flexed forward as it can make breathing uncomfortable and stretch the posterior structures of the neck.
4.Stop sleeping on your stomach. Lying on your stomach puts extra stress on your back and neck. You can wake up with neck stiffness and this bad habit can cause a rotational pressure in the neck alignment compromising your discs. Break the habit, lie on your side, and use pillows supporting your neck and shoulder. For better comfort, also place pillows in between your knees to maintain good spine alignment in sidelying. that will make it harder to roll over.
5.Avoid alcohol. You may fall asleep faster by drinking alcohol but it impairs the quality of your sleep and you’re more likely to wake up with aches and pains. Some prescription medications may also interfere with sleep.
6.Apply heat.A heat pack is an easy and safe way to keep a little ache from growing into a big one.Get a hot water bottle or a pack that you can microwave and apply to any spot that needs a little extra care. I do want to note that microwaveable heat pads do not last as long and you may end up going back to heat it up over and over. A commercial plug-in heat pad like this one is available on Amazon.
I just happen to refer my patients to Amazon, Walgreens, Target, or Walmart to get one like this especially one with an automatic shut-off to ensure safety.
It is imperatively important to see a doctor if you feel any numbness or tingling, or if you experience severe or chronic pain. For most backaches, these self-help techniques will give you effective relief and keep the pain from coming back.
Pain is a signal in your nervous system indicating that something may be wrong. It can be an unpleasant feeling of a burning, throbbing, aching pain such as a pinch, sharp, cramping pain. It can also be a tingling, stinging, or burning sensation that is unpleasant. It can be a very emotional experience as well. It can be just an annoying pain, and at its worst, can be debilitating.
Pain can be caused by intense or damaging stimuli. It can be acute, where duration is limited, and chronic pain where lasts longer and is associated with other health problems and medical conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritic pain.
Simple Back Pain Relief Exercises using an Exercise Ball
Back pain is the most common condition. facts indicate that over 25 million Americans ages 20 to 65 years suffer from back pain and that billions (more than 50 billion each year) are spent for treatment each year.
No matter where your pain is coming from, if you’re a chronic pain sufferer it can be truly difficult to maintain a healthy day-to-day life. The simplest tasks as sitting, standing, walking, can be an arduous task for the pain sufferer. However, there are many things you can try that may make it easier to cope with the pain.
You might even find that your pain will be lesser with certain strategies that have nothing to do with prescription medications. The mind is a powerful self healer. Once you realize how powerful your mind is, you can teach yourself to cope with pain. Pain doesn’t have to be the focus of your life.
Try the following techniques for dealing with chronic pain:
1.Engage in activities that you find relaxing. Find something that will help you ease and loosen your muscles. No matter what kind of pain you’re experiencing, if you tense up your body, it only makes the pain worse.
2.Meditate and visualize. Grab some alone time so you can engage in meditation. Start by taking deep breaths and clearing your mind. Avoid placing specific focus on your pain even if you’re tempted to do so. Instead, make it a point to visualize pain relief.
3.Use health-related affirmations. Affirmations are a great way to communicate positively with your subconscious. Tell yourself that you’re in good health and that you’ve found pain reduction and you may be pleasantly surprised at what you can achieve with just your mind.
4.Try hypnosis. You can enlist the help of a hypnotist or become skilled in the art of self-hypnosis. You can achieve some seemingly impossible feats just by having the proper focusand thought patterns. Hypnosis may use some good health affirmations while your mind is in a relaxed and accepting state.
With hypnosis, you may even begin to feel better before your conscious mind is aware of it!
5.Exercise to strengthen muscles. Depending on the type of pain you’re having, exercise may be able to relieve it. For instance, there are muscles you can work through an exercise that can lessen back pain
For best results, stay on a routine and remember that exercise is usually toughest at the beginning, but it gets easier the more often you do it. Of course, consult with your doctor before starting an exercise routine.
6.Seek and consult with a Physical Therapist. There are many excellent physical therapy treatments that can relieve your pain. A combination of exercises and pain-lessening equipment can bring you great relief. Your physician can refer you to a good physical therapist.
7.Use EFT therapy. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can show you how to remove mental and emotional roadblocks that could be causing or worsening your pain.
EFT can be applied to many aspects of your life, and chronic pain is no exception. There are many online materials available to help you study EFT Therapy.
No one wants to live life in pain, but these simple pain relief strategies can really help you enhance your quality of life.
By taking a holistic approach to your pain, you’re more likely to find a healthy balance and a life filled with greater joy, wellbeing, and happiness!
Working at a desk may look safe, but it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. While the occupational hazards in an office are different from those at a construction site or hospital, it’s still wise to take some precautions.
A growing number of studies have raised concerns about the effects of sitting for long periods, which can include increased risk of heart conditions, diabetes, certain cancers, and weight gain. That’s especially troubling considering that the average American spends more than 10 hours a day sitting.
Add job-related stress to the mixture and you can see how the consequences can start to add up.
Learn what steps you can take to counteract the downside of your desk job. Start with these ideas for protecting your health and wellbeing.
Tips for Protecting Your Physical Health:
1.Adjust your posture. Slouching can cut off your circulation and make your lower backache. Try drawing your shoulder blades down and back to open up your chest. A lumbar support pillow may help too.
2.Take frequent breaks. Studies show that moving around about every half hour reduces the negative effects of sitting. In fact, it may be even more effective than regular exercise. Make it a habit to stretch or walk around your office for a few minutes.
Just a few quick stretches you can do to give your backrest, get back circulation to the spine and legs. Sitting for long periods can cause blood clots, leg pain, and muscle stiffness.
STANDING WALL STRETCHES
Stand facing wall. Slide both hands up to the wall as shown, feel your back stretch, imagine like you are lifting your body off your hips. Hold this for 5 – 10 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times as necessary and as tolerated. This gives you a nice stretch and elongation to the torso, relieves compression on your spine especially the discs.
To stretch the sides, slide both hands up about 45 degrees to the left side. Hold for about 5-10 seconds, repeat the movement to the right side. Perform this stretch alternating between the right and the left directions to balance the spine.
Even just a few of these simple stretches can make a difference on your back. I recommend doing these stretches at least every 2- 3 hours/ This is especially if you tend to work 4 hours or more seated.
3.Align your wrists. Typing with a bent wrist could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Rest them occasionally and ensure your workstation is set up ergonomically.
4.Rest your eyes. If your eyes are dry, and your vision is blurred, you may be staring at the computer screen too long. Look away occasionally and do eye exercises like blinking or staring at something in the distance.
5.Stay hydrated.Drinking plenty of water helps to maintain your body temperature, metabolism, and heart health. Aim for 8 glasses a day.
6.Bring snacks. It’s easier to resist the vending machines when you have a supply of wholesome foods. Good choices include nuts, baby carrots, and hummus.
7.Pack your lunch. Save money and calories by bringing your lunch to work. You can prepare it the night ahead if you tend to run out of time in the morning.
Tips for Protecting Your Mental Health:
8.Make friends. Work buddies increase job satisfaction. Get to know your coworkers and look for common interests. Share stories about your personal life and encourage them to do the same.
9.Connect in person. Face-to-face contact also contributes to stronger relationships. Try dropping by someone’s office instead of sending an email.
10.Wake up early. Do you barely see the sun because you’re inside all day? Rising an hour earlier could enhance your mood and give you more time to work out and eat a hearty breakfast.
11.Use your vacation days. Letting your vacation days go to waste undermines your health and productivity, so time off is beneficial for you and your employer. Even just planning a vacation can lift your spirits, so make a list of your favorite destinations and start researching them.
12.Decorate your space. A cluttered desk can be a source of stress. Find an organizing system that works for you, and put files you rarely use out of sight. While you’re at it, add in a few personal touches and a pretty plant.
13.Focus on helping others. Any job is more meaningful and gratifying if you keep the purpose in mind. When you’re having a rough day, think about the people who benefit from your efforts.
Reduce Pain and Strengthen Your Lower Back With These Easy Tips
Do you suffer from lower back pain? While lower back ailments can feel like the worst kind of torture, you can actually experience lasting relief and perhaps healing by making some easy changes to your routines.
Try these easy strategies to reduce your lower back pain:
2.Wear comfortable shoes. Whether you’re a lover of high heels or flats, there are good choices and not-so-good choices, as your shoes affect your back. You owe it to your lower back – and your entire body for that matter – to shop for shoes that offer complete support.
·When shopping for heels, go with a “reasonable” heel height.
Excessively high shoes put excessive stress on the arch of the foot, which can easily affect the lower back.
·When looking for flats, remember that the sole should have enough cushioning to prevent your back from the shock that comes when the feet are in too close contact with hard ground surfaces.
3.Always stretch after a workout. Stretching after a workout – especially a rigorous one – can loosen the muscles and help realign the back so it is less prone to damage.
4.Support your back in bed. If you’re in bed for eight hours each night, that’s 1/3 of your life spent in bed. Your sleeping posture is probably one of the main reasons you’re experiencing nagging lower back issues. See how your sleeping position can affect your back and use these tips for positive results:
·If you sleep on your back, put pillows under your knees to support the back and prevent it from becoming strained during long hours of sleep.
·If you sleep on your side, place pillows between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position, which is important for preserving the health of your back.
·Sleeping on your stomach causes the neck and head to twist unnecessarily, which can put undue stress on your back, so it’s wise to avoid this sleeping position as much as possible.
Let these tips reduce your pain.
Making the changes necessary to support your back will enable you to finally achieve the lower back health you’ve been missing out on.
You’ll love the way you feel!
Check this video for easy exercises for your back:
How to Reduce the Health Risks from Long Hours of Sitting
A sedentary lifestyle increases one’s risk for health issues as commonly known. Weak, brittle bones (osteoporosis), poor circulation, weight gain, and poor cardiovascular endurance are just a few to mention.
Why is it a piece of common advice to stretch every chance you get when on a long flight? It is to avoid getting blood clots and swelling of the legs or ankles from sitting for long periods.
By now you’ve probably heard that sitting can cause health complications and even shorten your lifespan. If your boss won’t spring for an office full of treadmill desks, you can still stay by finding other ways to spend more time on your feet.
In fact, a recent study found that walking for just 2 minutes each hour can make a big difference.
That’s good news for the 80% of Americans who find it difficult to keep up with the minimum amount of exercise experts recommend. For example, the American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise.
There are many practical ways to overhaul a sedentary lifestyle. Try these suggestions for brief walks and other ideas to spend less time sitting.
Benefits of Sitting Less
1.Strengthens your heart. Sitting down slows your circulation and speeds up muscle loss, both of which take a toll on your heart.
On the other hand, physical activity helps to prevent heart disease and even reverses some risk factors.
2.Avoid illness. Prolonged sitting has also been associated with diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. A daily walk could mean fewer doctor visits and longer life. Stand, move around, stretch even in your chair.
3.Lose weight.Naturally, you burn more calories jogging than lounging on the couch. Think about how much better you look and feel when you stay trim. Plus, exercise is safer than crash diets that may not provide essential nutrients.
4.Enhance your mood.Sitting affects your mind as well as your body. Boost your spirits with a gentle workout. You’ll probably find yourself thinking more clearly too.
1.Break up tasks.Divide your assignments into 60-minute segments. That’s about as long as most adults can concentrate, so you may even increase the quality of your work.
2.Create triggers.If you still tend to lose yourself in the flow, develop signals for when to stand up. Maybe you want to program an alarm on your computer, on a Fitbit or Apple watch, or time yourself according to your favorite radio news program. You can always use any strategy to make you remember!
3.Engage in other light activities.Any gentle task can be substituted for walking. Tidy up the break room or do a few legs raises. If you’re at home, you could weed the garden or dance a few steps.
4.Talk with your boss.It may help to let your boss or coworkers know in advance why you’re changing your routine. They may want to join you,
Other Ways to Reduce the Risks of Prolonged Sitting
1.Exercise regularly.There is no need to expound on the benefits of exercise.While a two-minute walk is a good start, there are advantages to additional exercise. More intense workouts will condition your cardiovascular system, thicken your bones, and sharpen your mind.
2.Eat a balanced diet.Studies show that adults who sit more, snack more. Try drinking a glass of water or tea to curb your appetite.
Prepare healthy food you can nibble on anywhere, like yogurt or peanut butter on apple slices.
3.Stretch your hips and back.Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spine and hips. Stand up and stretch every hour.
Just a few stretches you can do in your chair:
Forward trunk stretch. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times or as able. Relieves a tight and tired back from prolonged sitting.
Upper spine stretch. Place both hands behind the neck, stretch backward against the back of a chair. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Forward and side stretch on Table or desk. Place hands on the desk. Slide hands forward to stretch your back. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times or as needed.
SLide hands toward the left side, hold for 5 seconds. Then slide hands toward the right side for another 5 seconds. Repeat 5 to 10 times on each side or as desired until a good stretch for relief is achieved.
4.Turn off the TV.At home,do you sit in front of the TV after sitting at your desk for eight hours? Visit the gym or go out with friends instead.
Hold onto your desk job while you take care of your body and mind. Strategic breaks and other healthy habits will help you live a longer and more active life.
How You Can Slip Exercise into Your Everyday Routines
Many people say that they simply don’t have the time to exercise. While this may be perfectly true in a fast paced world, there are certain things you can do to incorporate exercise into your daily life without allotting much time for it.
When it comes to exercise, it all starts with a good attitude and a little bit of action each day. It’s a common misconception to believe that you need to engage in strict dieting or lengthy and vigorous exercise routines in order to stay in shape. It simply isn’t true!
Try some of these tips in order to slip exercise into your daily routine:
Take the Stairs. No matter where you are, there are many times when you can opt to take the stairs instead of an elevator. Whether you’re attending an important business meeting, or just going to the mall, take the stairs.
Go for a Walk. Walking is a great way to get extra exercise and most of the time it doesn’t feel like exercise at all. If you were planning to meet with a friend, ask them if they’d like to go for a walk while you talk. Alternatively, you can go for walk when you just need to sort some of your thoughts. Besides, getting some extra blood to the brain will actually help you think clearer.
Play with Your Children. If you have children, it’s likely that you have at least a part of your day dedicated to their care. Decide that you’re going to engage in active games like outdoor sports. You can even do this with pets too. It’ll be a fun and relaxing source of exercise!
Jog in Place. Jogging in place might seem like a boring activity, but when you combine it with something else that you’re doing, it can be quite invigorating. There are bound to be short bursts of time that you can use to relieve tension and get the blood pumping.
Ride Your Bike. If you’re traveling a short distance, it’s a good idea to take your bike, instead of the car or bus. While it may add some time to your overall travel time, it’s a great way to stay in shape if you can spare a few extra minutes.
Active Dates. Whether you’d like to schedule a date with a partner, friend, or family member, you can definitely choose an activity with exercise. Instead of going to a movie, go dancing. You could even try something like rock climbing or attending the batting cages. Get creative and have a blast!
Lift Weights. You can multitask while lifting weights as well. Lift while you’re brainstorming, watching TV, or talking on the phone. You may also want to keep the weights at your desk as a reminder to use them.
Park Far Away. You don’t need the stress of fighting for the closest parking spot. Instead, travel a little further and walk! There’s little stress involved with this decision and it’ll probably save you some time, too.
Try Outdoor Chores. If you don’t already participate in outdoor chores, you could be helping your house and yourself by engaging in them. You might even be saving your family some money if you’ve previously hired the neighbor’s kids. Mow your lawn, do some weeding, or take up gardening – it’s a simple way to stay fit!
It doesn’t take long to realize that, with the proper attitude, you can still remain active while you’re busy with other things. Sometimes you may end up taking a little extra time to do routine tasks, but your body will thank you for it.
Just take these simple, small actions each day and you’ll soon reap the rewards!