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.
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.
Chronic pain isn’t an easy condition to handle, but you can take control.
Simple changes in your lifestyle, diet, and exercise routines can help ease your pain. After all, you can be your own best physical therapist!
Try these techniques to experience relief:
1.Manage stress.Stress can increase chronic pain and make it more difficult to manage. Try a variety of strategies to relax and reduce stress to see which ones work the best for you.
·Yoga and meditation are two stress-reduction strategies that can help.
2.Try breathing exercises.
By simply focusing on your breathing, you can relax your muscles and reduce pain.
Deep breathing exercises can also reduce blood pressure, eliminate stress, and decrease heart rate. When you breathe in, breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth with a semi-pursed lip, slowly to allow better gas exchange in the lungs.
3.Find fun distractions.Instead of concentrating on the pain, try distractions that help you forget about it.
·Hobbies and activities such as watching your favorite movie or reading a new book can help. You may also want to try drawing or other ideas that help you fill your time and avoid thinking about the pain.
4.Increase your water intake.Dehydration can make chronic pain worse. Have you tried coconut water? Choose the pure coconut water, not from concentrate, no sugar added kind. Many brands are available in the market. I know it’s an acquired taste but it is rich in natural electrolytes and potassium. Muscle cramps? Coconut water can help. You can find many different brands at your favorite grocery or health foods store.
5.Avoid inflammatory food. Fast food and processed food can increase inflammation in your body, so your chronic pain also increases. Foods with a lot of sugar and salt also contribute to inflammation and increased pain.
6.Add more anti-inflammatory food.On the other hand, nuts, leafy greens, fatty fish, berries, and other items can help you fight inflammation and reduce pain.They have antioxidants that fight damage on the cellular level.
7.Focus on posture.Posture can help reduce the stress on your back and cut down on chronic pain.
·Consider the way you sit and stand. Experts recommend that you avoid slumping your shoulders and lowering your head. The spine should be straight, so circulation is better.
8.Discuss your health.Researchers have found that talking about your health can reduce pain. The American Psychological Association points out that talking about your pain can help you discover management techniques.
9.Try massage.Massages can reduce chronic pain by improving circulation and blood flow.
·Massages help reduce back, shoulder, and neck pain. They can also help your overall health. Improved circulation, looser muscles, helps uplift your mood from the endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, being stimulated.
Try using heat or cold packs over sore muscles and joints. See which one gets you the best relief.
TIP:Heat expands: meaning, more blood flow into the area due to blood vessels and the lymphatic system more open. COLD constricts, used mostly with acute bruising or injury. Ask your physical therapist which one to use best for your condition.
10.Find support. Health experts recommend finding support groups that focus on chronic pain. These groups give you the chance to meet others who suffer from chronic pain.
·They can offer advice and tips for managing pain. They can also provide doctor and clinic reviews or recommendations. By talking to others who have chronic pain, you can learn new techniques to deal with your pain.
·Chronic pain is linked to anxiety and depression. The social aspect of support groups can also help in coping with these side effects.
·Support groups are less formal settings, and online groups offer privacy and anonymity, so you can feel comfortable sharing your experience.
Even if you take medication for your pain, you can further, reduce it with these techniques.
Follow your doctor’s advice, reduce stress and inflammation, and find support.
Life is worth living. And we do need to take charge if we want the pain relief we seek.
About four out of five Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. It can take many forms. Lower back pain, however, 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. 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. It can also strengthen your muscles. Physical activity can help fight inflammation by increasing the flow of blood and nutrients to your spine.
3. Eat more calcium. Strong bones help protect you from osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is 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. 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.
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. Sit correctly. 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. Lift safely. 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 you to 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.
Nighttime Lifestyle Changes
1. Select the right mattress for you. A moderately firm mattress usually works best. 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. Place a small pillow under your knees to maintain the curve in your lower back.
4. Stop sleeping on your stomach. Lying on your stomach puts extra stress on your back. To break the habit, lie on your side and use pillows between your knees. This aligns your spine better. It relieves loading on your spine and supports your spine.
5. Avoid alcohol. You may fall asleep faster by drinking alcohol. However, it impairs the quality of your sleep. You are 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 heat pack that you can microwave. This can be applied to any sore spot . I do want to note that microwaveable heat pads do not retain heat long enough. 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 refer my patients to Amazon, Walgreens, Target, or Walmart to get one. It is preferable to have one an automatic shut-off to ensure safety.
(I am not an affiliate of Amazon or the seller and do not receive compensation for this feature in my article.)
It is imperative to see a doctor if you feel any numbness or tingling. This is more so, if you experience severe or chronic pain. These self-help techniques will give you effective relief and keep the pain from recurring.