The following article is a guest post.
Is back pain affecting your day to day life? Nursing a sore back can get in the way of everything from your productivity at work to your fitness, relationships, you name it.
When it comes to back pain, one of the most common ailments patients head to the doctor for, it’s important to keep in mind certain behaviors you might have that are making it worse:
1. Bad Posture.
It may seem like bad posture is simply aesthetically unpleasing, which is why Mom always yelled “stand up straight!” when you were a kid. But the truth is, it can significantly impact your overall health and wellbeing.
Not only does slumping and slouching place unnecessary pressure on the spinal column. It also strains and pulls adjacent muscles and tendons which causes them to become inflamed and tight – in your lower back, neck, and shoulders.
Bad posture might also come in the form of what is colloquially referred to as “text neck.”
The formal term, Forward Head Syndrome, refers to the craning forward of the head and neck past the shoulders. Most commonly when staring down at a mobile device like your smartphone or laptop. The further past your shoulders your head and neck hang, the more stress that places on your neck and back muscles.
Experts recommend avoiding bad posture habits by:
- sitting up straight;
- strengthening the spine, core, and back muscles with exercise;
- avoiding crossing legs or tilting to one side when sitting and standing.
2. Avoiding Activity.
Don’t exert sore back muscles by exercising, right? Wrong. Not only does avoiding activity not help your aching back recover, but it can actually exacerbate the problem. Low-impact exercise that requires you to stretch and gently move muscles helps to both loosen them as well boost circulation and reduce inflammation.
Good exercises for back pain may include:
- Taking a brisk walk;
- Practicing yoga;
- Riding a bicycle;
Inactivity additionally can lead to unwanted weight gain and other unhealthy behavioral habits like eating a poor diet and avoiding social engagements. Weight gain, especially around the midsection, can actually alter your center of gravity. Drawing it forward and causing your back to imperceptibly work harder to keep you upright when walking, sitting, running, etc.
3. Wearing High Heels.
While high heels might seem like a ‘must’ when it comes to your work fashion, they are a definite ‘no no’ when it comes to staying fashionably healthy.
In addition to being plain uncomfortable, high heels can negatively impact your posture and pronation. The higher the heel, the further forward it thrusts your hips, leading to pelvic imbalance and low back inflammation.
Not to mention, high heels shove the forefoot into an unnaturally narrow point leading to painful foot problems like bunions and hammertoes.
A 2015 report in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery revealed that injuries resulting from wearing high heels doubled between the years 2002 and 2012, most leading to sprained or strained feet or ankles. A lower leg or foot injury is more likely to sideline a workout routine or athletic hobby which helps you stay in shape, and thus potentially lead to unwanted pain, even in your back.
4. Awkward Movements.
Reaching awkwardly behind your dresser to plug your phone charger into that hard to reach outlet? Twisting your back, contorting your neck, shoving your shoulder into a small space. All of these seemly quick and harmless body positions can actually result in muscle strain and spasm in a matter of seconds.
For existing back pain sufferers and older adults, especially, helpful ease of use tools can prevent you from worsening lumbar spine inflammation. For example, reacher grabbers can save you the trouble of bending and stooping over to pick things up. And swivel seats like these top picks make it easier to turn around and get in and out of the car without twisting your body.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle.
Does your 9 to 5 keep you shackled to a chair all day sitting in front of a computer? Do you spend most of your time after work sitting watching TV, eating dinner, or playing games? All that sitting can not only lead to poor posture habits, but can limit blood circulation in your body and cause chronic back pain.
Humans have evolved to be creatures who should move. Yet, a largely sedentary Western culture has most people spending their days sitting.
A brand new study has reinforced the theory that qualifies sitting as detrimental to your health, but has taken it even further. Looking at 8,000 different people, how long they spent sitting, and their rates of mortality, researches found a direct relationship between sitting and early death. Even if participants were people who exercised regularly.
The solution they propose? Don’t sit more than 30 minutes at a time without getting up to stretch and move around. Turns out, your life depends on it.