The back pain is one of the most common health problems prevalent these days. The sedentary lifestyle and long hours spent hunched before the computers and laptops have taken its toll. And, the poor posture which you would see almost everywhere hasn’t been helpful. And, don’t get me started on the lack of exercise. All in all, the back pain is a side-effect of a careless and lazy lives, we are living.
Considering the discomfort it causes and the other serious health problems that arise from bad back, it is shocking that people have such a lackadaisical attitude towards it. Often, when it gets worse and can no longer be ignored, many would visit masseuse or a chiropractor to alleviate the pain. But, other than that, usually no concrete steps are taken to ensure that the back pain could be stopped even before it arises. For most, it is an occupation hazard.
There are millions of products available in the market that can help in managing to reducing back pain. The magnetic belts, the anti-inflammatory creams and massage machines can all do the trick. However, you can make some tweaks to your lifestyle and can make a lasting difference. These tweaks would help you tackle back pain at the very source of its origin.
Don’t sit for too long
We have gotten used to sitting so much that we fail to realize the plethora of health problems we are exposing ourselves to. The studies have linked sitting for long durations with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and premature death. Also, prolonged sitting can slow down the metabolism, which along with affecting body’s ability to break fat down, also affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and blood pressure. And, typically, we all spend more than eight hours sitting. This includes watching TV, using a computer, reading, doing homework and traveling by car, bus or train.
The side effects of sitting for too long have been backed by a research as well. The research involving more than 800,000 people revealed that in comparison to those who sat least, the people who sat longest had 112% increase in risk of diabetes, 147% increase in cardiovascular events, 90% increase in death caused by cardiovascular events and 49% increase in death from any cause.
When your body remains in the sitting position for more than 45 minutes, your brain thinks it is the position to hold. So, it shortens some muscles in your back and once that happens, your posture gets locked and whole alignment shifts to a crooked, bowed curvature even when you’re standing. So, move around once in an hour. Refill your water glass or go over to your colleague to discuss your work. And, if you are working from home, then get a standing table. So, you won’t have to sit the whole time.
Tweak your workspace for your back
Moving around once in an hour isn’t enough to protect you from back pain. You need to dump the awful bucket chair you have at your office because most of the time you will have to spend hunched in it. Get a back friendly ergonomic chair. Of course, it won’t look great in terms of aesthetics and you will have to part with a significant amount to buy a good model. But, when you compare the cost of the chair with the money you would have to spend on massage sessions and chiropractor visits, you will know it would be the best investment you had made for your health in a while.
If you have more freedom at your workplace, then go for the standing desks. Another option is to go for a makeshift model that you can place on top of your desk. This will allow you to shift from sitting to standing position throughout the day.
Remember that the angles are very important. Your arms and legs should be at 90 degree angle. The monitor should be straight in line of your sight. If it is angled down, it will put stress on your neck muscles. So raise your monitor if there is a need. And, you might also have to lower the keyboard.
Strengthen your pelvic floor
The pelvic floor muscles are at the base of your spine and supports the spine in a way no other muscles do. The Pilates is the best way to target the pelvic floor muscles and other back muscles that otherwise aren’t worked in usual workouts. Another key advice in avoiding back pain is that you need to strengthen your core. The strong core will hold your back in position and will possibly reduce the stress caused by any improper movement. Also, the strong core muscles are very helpful in maintaining the right posture. These muscles hold your vertebra and spine in the right position. So, pay special attention to the core training in the gym.
Sleep on your back
The position in which you sleep has a huge effect on your back health. The stomach sleepers will have the worst back problems. First of all, there is no mattress support for the back in this position. Then, there is a case of gravity pulling you down, which causes your spine to bow. And, sleeping in this position for prolonged period in the night could cause variety of other health problems including neck pain and improper digestion. If you can’t find sleep in any other position, then consider placing a pillow under the stomach and pelvis area. And, the pillow under the head should be flat, no other pillow is even a better option. In comparison, sleeping on the sides is mildly a better option. However, do place a firm pillow between your knees as it will prevent your upper leg from pulling your spine out of alignment and reduces stress on your hips and lower back. Also, the pillow placed under your head should keep your spine straight.
Sleeping on the back is the best position by far. It is the best suited position for your back. In this position, it is easier for you to keep your head, neck, and spine aligned and in a neutral position. There is no extra pressure on your back that would pull your spine out of the neutral position. However, be especially careful against placing a too flat or too fat pillow under your head. The pillow should support the natural curve of your neck, and shoulders.
Restrict high heels
Okay, it isn’t possible to lay off heels completely. It is practically and culturally inappropriate. However, you can limit the usage of high heels. The high heels can cause serious shift in your body alignment that causes back pain. First of all, the center of balance shifts forward, which forces the lower back to curve, placing unnatural stress on the region. This curving of the lower back could also narrow the opening between the vertebrae where the nerve root exits, which will cause the compression of the nerve roots. Also, over-wearing heels can lead to shortening of the calf muscles, which means you will even have problem when walking barefoot or in running shoes.
Also, bending your toes into an unnatural position while wearing high heels can cause a range of problems, ranging from ingrown toenails to irreversible damage to leg tendons. And, cramming your toes into a narrow toe box can cause nerve damage and bunions.
The best way to ensure that you don’t wear heels for the longer time is to switch them with flat shoes when traveling to and from. Another option is to wear flat shoes when you are working at your desk at the office.
Keep soft knees
Locking your knees reduces the flow of blood to your legs, which can lead to muscles tightening up. So, try to keep your knees soft as much as possible. For example, when you are standing, make a slight adjustment and allow your knees to be soft. You can adopt this measure when you are moving around. Also, you should use this slight modification, when you are working out in the gym, especially if you are in a habit of lifting heavy weights. However, do remember that soft knees doesn’t mean weak knees. The weak knees can cause a lot of problems, including buckling of the knees in middle of an exercise. So, remember the difference.
Yoga can be very helpful in tackling back pain and poor posture. Not only it relaxes your muscles through stretching, it also makes them stronger through series of contraction, which means yoga can be used as a two pronged weapon against back pain. Along with alleviating stress and tension from your back muscles, it will also make them better equipped to handle physical demands made on them. And, there is yet another way in which yoga helps in dealing with back problems. The regular practice of yoga helps you de-stress. And, often, when we experience stress, the various muscles in our body unconsciously tighten up. So, if you are experiencing back pain and stress simultaneously, then relaxation could help you in dealing with both.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge pose), Marjaryasana (Cat Pose), Bitilasana (Cow Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) and Salabhasana (Locust Pose) are some of the yoga poses that could help in strengthening back and relieving all the tension from your back muscles.