As we go about our busy everyday lives, it can be tough to always make sure that we are doing what’s right for our health. Had a bad day at work? It’s awfully tempting to have a greasy hamburger for lunch. Getting tired at your desk? It’s hard not to slouch.
While many patients will need medical intervention to treat back problems, many of the symptoms of back pain can be treated through lifestyle changes. As you are going about your regular day, consider how your habits in each of the following areas are contributing to your pain problems. If you’re experiencing chronic pain that is disrupting your daily life, contact the Spine Institute Northwest at 888-712-0318! A consultation with Dr. Solomon Kamson can help you get back your life.
#1: How Do You Sleep?
Poor sleeping posture can have a major effect on your back and neck. Long periods in an unusual position or with your head at an angle put lots of strain on the muscle groups in your neck and back. When you hit the sheets, be mindful of your position. One that’s especially bad for your cervical (neck) spine: Lying on your stomach with your head facing in one direction and your arm spread out behind you. Be sure you’ve chosen a pillow that allows you to sleep comfortably and keeps your neck in a good position. Another option is to roll up a towel to create neck support. You should also make sure you are using a good, comfortable mattress — a sagging mattress that’s lost its support can put your back muscles under strain.
#2: Are You Wearing the Right Shoes?
If you’ve got high arches, it’s extremely important to wear shoes that offer plenty of arch support. Flat feet have special needs as well. What does that have to do with your back? Your feet are the foundation for your entire body. If you’ve got aching feet, you’re more likely to have poor posture or to walk in an unnatural way. This places strain on your back and your core muscles, which can lead to back pain. Especially if your job requires that you spend lots of time on your feet or you are very physically active, you need to be sure you’re wearing shoes that help you maintain good posture and that minimize stress of impact to your feet, legs, and back.
#3: Are You Exercising Enough?
You really can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting regular exercise for maintaining good back health. If you are experiencing chronic back pain, it’s important to talk to a specialist like Dr. Kamson to make sure that you are choosing exercises that will not exacerbate your condition. Finding exercise that works can sometimes be as simple as remembering to stand up and walk around regularly during the day. A minimum for most people is 20 minutes of walking per day, but if you can, at least 30 minutes of more vigorous exercise at least 3 times a week is better.
#4: Are You Sitting Correctly?
If you slouch forward or hunch over when you’re seated, these prolonged periods of poor posture are putting a serious strain on your neck and back. Be sure that you are using the proper chair at work and consider asking for a standing desk or a desk that can be adjusted between standing and sitting. Good desk posture should mean your feet are flat on the floor, your back is straight and supported, and you don’t have to crane your neck up or down to see your computer screen. Your wrists should be comfortably placed over your keyboard, not bent and strained.
#5: Are You Keeping Track of Your Back Problems?
If you are experiencing regular back pain, it’s important that you keep track of your pain issues to try to identify any patterns. Keep a journal where you track the dates and times that you experience pain, the nature of the pain, and what you were doing. (There are a large number of free smartphone apps that make keeping this kind of log simple.) Also note whether you did anything to relieve the pain, whether it provided relief, and for how long. You may be able to make connections between certain activities and increased pain. Even if you don’t see a pattern, this can be a valuable tool in helping a physician make a proper diagnosis.