Simple Lifestyle Changes That Prevent Back Pain
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.
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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.
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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 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.
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.
👉👉👉Tips to Relieve Sore Muscles
Did you know that you could look skinnier without losing any weight? While you’re waiting to see results from diet and exercise, there are ways to slim down instantly. Try these tips for your wardrobe, hair, face, body, and mind.
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Wardrobe Tips for Looking Thinner:
1. Wear one color at a time. Wearing a single color or similar shades for your whole outfit will help you to look thinner and taller. Black is a practical choice, but other colors can achieve the same effect. Solids are usually more slimming than prints.
2. Ensure that your clothes fit properly. Wearing clothes that are too small makes you look bigger. Seek a comfortable fit and professional alterations if necessary. Get a personalized bra fitting at any department store periodically to keep up with any changes due to aging or weight fluctuations.
3. Use undergarments with comfortable shaping. Body shapers and other compression garments are more comfortable than ever before. Invest in some strategic undergarments that will make all your clothes look better.
4. Choose slimming pants. Look for pants with a flat front and minimal detail. Skip the pants with hidden zippers and no pockets. Pant legs with a slight flare can also help you to look trimmer.
5. Select flattering tops. Pay attention to the length of your tops. A top that ends below the waist will deflect attention from a thick middle. Similarly, a wide collar will help balance broad hips.
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6. Wear the right shoes. Chunky shoes can make your legs look thicker. Look for narrow pumps with a slightly pointed toe rather than square or rounded toes. Nude shoes are especially good because they make your legs look longer.
7. Liberate yourself from the fear of swimwear. Many women shrink from shopping for swimwear but there are bathing suits designed for every body type. High-cut legs can make you look thinner. Lightweight compression can keep you feeling comfortable and sleek.
Other Tips for Looking Thinner:
1. Use makeup to make your face more angular. The iridescent powder can make your face look slimmer and create contours. Brush it along your brow bones and the top of your cheekbones to bring out your bone structure.
2. Make your eyes stand out. If your eyes look bigger, the rest of your face will appear smaller. Curl your upper lashes and apply extra mascara to your top outer lashes. Keep your eyebrows slightly arched and well-groomed.
3. Get a flattering haircut. If you want your face to look less full, try cutting your hair shorter. Instead of bangs, pull your hair away from your face to make your face look longer. Choose a hairstyle that adds a little height and fullness to the crown.
4. Practice good posture. Develop strong abdominal muscles and hold your stomach flat at all times. Pull your shoulders back. It’s good for your health and makes you look leaner.
5. Get a safe tan. If you think that tanning makes you look thinner, do it safely. Sunless tanning products have come a long way in recent years. Daily tanning moisturizers are one easy option to get a little color gradually without any increased risk of skin cancer or premature aging.
6. Project a positive attitude. No matter what your dress or pants size is, you’ll feel more attractive when you cultivate a healthy sense of self-esteem and genuine affection for others. Focus on your most attractive features and qualities. People can sense your self-confidence. Confidence and self-worth are attractive. You are uniquely you.
Looking thinner can help you feel more confident and give you the encouragement you need to stick with your fitness program.
Simple adjustments to your wardrobe and beauty routine can have a huge impact on your appearance and your state of mind.
Good posture can go a long way as we go through our daily tasks. Being aware of how to sit or stand properly can eliminate many basic aches and pains experienced.
WHAT IS A TEXT-NECK SYNDROME?
Mobile devices have caused a new affliction: new affliction has emerged: Text neck syndrome.
Check this image, one sees this every day. Everyone owns a cellphone, and a vast majority cannot love without holding their cellphone
This reminded me just a week ago of a fragile lady referred to us for frequent falling from Parkinson’s disease. She was about 85 years old, using a walker with a seat, and has poor balance. She has the typical Parkinson’s posture: forward neck, severe kyphosis, and she is bent over on her walker.
HOW MOBILE PHONES CAN BE ADDICTIVE
I could not get this lady away from her cellphone so I can perform her initial assessment. She was bent further forward on her neck, shoulders hunched (protracted), ribcage with poor mobility.
Her complaint: muscle spasms in the neck, shoulder pain, and back pain. Why am I not surprised?
I am very lenient and understanding with my patients, especially the elderly. I have worked with teenagers and adults alike who just cannot let go of their cellphones even during physical therapy sessions. Not with an 85-year-old however who was clearly addicted to her cellphone. Bless her heart, I had to keep her hands busy just so I am able to align her trunk properly to prevent falls at home.
COMMON COMPLAINTS WITH BAD POSTURE
Neck pain is a common complaint in about a tenth of the adult population. Children as young as 2 years old know how to get youtube on tablets. I saw this with my own eyes. My twin nieces, both two at that time, knew how to get to Youtube to watch the play the alphabet songs and sing with it! Those two barely know their ABC’s.
Bad posture can be acquired from time spent on mobile devices. This likely leads to worse problems. Back pain affects 8 out of 10 Americans at certain stages in life and is also a leading cause of disability worldwide.
Tension headaches affect about 80-90% of the population. These are just some problems that can arise from poor postural habits.
Poor posture is qualified as a repetitive stress injury affecting us, plantigrade creatures who roam this earth. It can easily lead to common symptoms that can escalate into more significant morbidities.
NATURE OF THE PROBLEM:
Imagine this: You are carrying about 4.5 to 5 kg of weight (approximately 10 to 11 lbs. -the importance of the head) on the shoulders and neck every waking hour. You turn your neck side to side, up or down, or bend sideways. Who or what is responsible for producing all these movements? Your muscles, of course.
ANATOMY AND BIOMECHANICS OF THE NECK
The orientation of the head closer to the shoulders is crucial to avoid excessive loading to these supporting muscles.
Biomechanically speaking, for every inch of forwarding deviation of the head, there is an equivalent additional load of about 15 to 30 pounds placed on these muscles.
This basically doubles the weight of the head, forcing these muscles to contract and be in constant tension for prolonged periods throughout the day. Muscles can only contract for a specific period before fatigue sets in.
This occurs when these muscles are subjected to abnormally high levels of forces required to stabilize the head, which is too far away from its center of gravity. Spasms and muscle cramps can then occur, which can also cause compression within the cervical spine causing tension headaches, decreased blood flow to the brain, and other subsequent symptoms.
Left unchecked, this can lead to more severe problems.
OBSERVE GOOD POSTURE FOR PAIN PREVENTION
Being mindful of how you carry your body through the day can make a big difference and improvement in health.
The most uncomplicated motion of bringing your head and neck back and more towards your mid-line immediately eliminates this excessive load and relaxation of the trapezius muscles (that muscle on both sides of your throat you tend to massage when tight) is noticeable.
SIMPLE TIPS FOR BETTER POSTURE.
1. Stand with your back against a wall. Allow your butt, shoulder blades, and the end of your head to touch the wall. This is your ideal posture closest to the center of gravity.
1. Walk away from the wall.
2. Picture yourself in a position as close to this alignment as possible when standing.
2. When sitting, sit straight and picture looking at yourself from the side. Imagine a straight line from your ear down to your shoulder and hip. Your trunk and thigh have to be at a 90-degree angle (as an L-shape) when seated. The leg and knee also have to be at a 90-degree angle. This ensures proper distribution of your weight in the chair, minimizing overloading the spine and joints.
BENEFITS OF GOOD POSTURE:
1. cardiorespiratory functions improve.– By opening up your front chest wall by sitting or standing straight, lungs can expand better within the rib cage, allowing better oxygen intake.
2. good for stress reduction – When the body is better aligned within your center of gravity, there is less strain in muscles within opposite sides of the body.
3. Prevents Pain – When muscles are not strained, and joints are better aligned, there is no shearing on muscles and ligaments. There is also none of the unnecessary friction on joints from abnormal loading from poor posture.
4. Balance Improvement– Good posture allows the body to have quicker responses and reflex righting to balance shifts.
5. Better walking pattern – Good posture allows a person to have a more equal and symmetrical stride and step.
6. It makes one look better, confident. – Ever noticed people with good posture? They stand taller and appear confident, healthy, and strong. They move differently. They are more coordinated with their movements.
Talk to your doctor, a back specialist, or your physical therapist.
After all, an ounce of prevention is always better than a pound of cure! This was one of my mother’s favorite quotes!
Enjoy a pain-free day to all you hard workers out there!
Get in touch! Feel free to share your experience with pain and how you deal with it. I would love to hear from you!
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