With most of us hunched over desktops, laptops or counter-tops all day, it’s no surprise so many of us suffer from back pain. Just the ABC News stated that 85% of us would suffer from it. Considering it is the second most common reason the majority of us visit the doctor and many don’t have quality insurance, let alone insurance at all, take the time to read these tips and work on your back problems outside the MD’s office.
Face the reality of WHY you have back pain. For most of us it is not because we have been in a car accident, or injured our backs seriously. If so, then of course on going medical help is needed. But for most of us, we are in back pain because we eat too much, exercise too little, and are not conscious of the ways we move our bodies in our daily life. Most of us are in fact, injuring ourselves.
Once you know why you are having back pain, create a diet, exercise and lifestyle that will keep you pain-free. If you need help creating a plan, see your doctor and get advice on diet and exercise.
Monitor yourself as you go through your day and like a “movement detective” find out how you are hurting yourself. Are you sitting on a sofa that is too low for you? Do you need to buy a chair that is more back-friendly? Are you jerking your hips around when you get out of your car? Pay attention to every move you make for a week, and you may discover how you are hurting yourself. Once you know, then you can learn how to move properly and avoid self injury.
Sleep with more than one pillow to support your back. To minimize future back pain, be mindful of how you sleep. You will need one pillow for your head and neck
support, and depending on how you sleep, another pillow to support the bottom half of your body. If you sleep on the side, put a regular-sized pillow or body pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, put a small pillow beneath the small of your back. If you sleep on your abdomen, put a small pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. (Check out a handy slide show of these sleeping positions on MayoClinic.com)
Apply heating pads to areas on your neck and back that feel particularly stiff. Heating pads can be easily found at Target, Walmart and nearly all drug stores. Applying heat to a trouble spot helps loosen the muscles and relieve the stiffness.
Take a hot bath with epsom salt. Add 1-2 cups of epsom salt in a tub of hot water for a luxurious self-spa treat after a long day of work. Epsom salts are cheap and can be bought at any supermarket or drug store. A hot bath will help relieve stiff muscles and probably remove some of the stress that is causing you back pain in the first place!
Make your own massage tool with two tennis balls and a long tube sock. Stick two tennis balls in the end of a long tube sock and tie the ends tightly. You can then sandwich the tennis balls between your back and a wall to rub them against your knots, or lie down on the floor with the tennis balls beneath you.
Stack books beneath your laptop so that your neck and head are level when you type. These days, I stack three fat textbooks beneath my laptop so I’m not hunching over the laptop for eight to nine hours a day, and I’m forced to maintain a proper posture.
Stretch! If you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, remember to take just a minute every hour to stretch. You could set your Outlook calendar to remind you every hour to do this. It can easily be done while you’re on a conference call, as part of a quick break to get some water, or incorporated into whatever else you might be doing. Simply standing up on your toes and reaching for the ceiling will immediately make you feel better. Throughout the day, you can also try different Upper Body Stretches for the Office and Standing Stretches for the Office. Be sure to stretch before exercising, too!
Lift heavy objects properly. It takes just as much time to bend your knees and lift with your legs, as it does to bend from the waist and put the strain on your back as you straighten back up again. Many companies now teach employees how to Protect Your Back While Lifting.
Use good posture. Maintaining a good posture is especially important when sitting because, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz, “Slouching puts 100 extra pounds of stress on the lower back.” Make sure you know how to Prevent Back Pain with Good Posture (or how to maintain Good Posture during Pregnancy.)