In 2015, Turn Your Back on Back Pain
Coastal Sport & Wellness
February 2015 Issue
by Andrew Pandya, MD, Interventional Pain Management
Back pain can be immobilizing—and figuring out the right way to address it can be frustrating. Here are a few tips for dealing with existing pain and preventing future injury!
Are you…Sitting all day? The new consensus in medical circles is that “sitting is the new smoking” and that doing too much of it can lead to a number of ailments such as poor vision, blood clots, and knee pain. Sitting at a desk for hours on end can wreak havoc on the entire body, especially the back. Leaning your head forward and staring at the computer screen locks the pelvis into place, resulting in extra pressure on the lower back and weakening of the abdominal muscles. Consequently, these weakened abdominal muscles exacerbate any back pain as your back struggles to compensate with less support.
The unnatural tilt of the neck can add up to 60 pounds of
The Easy Fix: Try sitting upright with your shoulders back and your arms and knees parallel to the ground. Consider taking a break from sitting at least once an hour to get your blood flowing. It doesn’t take much equipment to work on your abdominal muscles, thus strengthening the muscles that support your spine. You can mitigate some of the negative effects of sitting with your handy office chair and some quick squats. With your back to a chair, stand with your feet hipwidth apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lean forward at the hips with your back straight while slowly lowering yourself towards the chair. Instead of sitting, straighten up and repeat from the standing position, keeping your core muscles engaged.
Addicted to your smartphone? It is estimated that the average millennial exchanges 109 text messages per day and spends at least an hour staring at the screen of their phone. A recent study shows that the way the neck cranes over a smartphone for texting and browsing can actually cause serious damage to the spine over time.
The unnatural tilt of the neck can add up to 60 pounds of pressure on the back of your head. That’s the equivalent of three car tires, six bowling balls, or giving two pit bulls a piggyback ride. Ouch.
The Easy Fix: Try looking up from your phone! Hold your phone up higher and remember to maintain proper posture while holding your phone or texting. If you know you’re guilty of “Texting-Neck”, try the “corner stretch” to activate your chest and shoulder muscles and strengthen your neck. This stretch can be done anywhere, as long as you have a corner to work with. Begin facing the corner, about two feet away, with your feet together. Place your forearms and palms against the wall, with your elbows slightly below shoulder length at a ninety-degree angle. Slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulders.
A weekend MVP? While exercise and physical activity are recommended, casual athletes are more at risk for developing back pain from overextending their muscles as they transition from being highly sedentary during the week to moderately active on the weekends.
The Easy Fix: Try strengthening your core muscles with yoga, pilates, or simply taking a walk. Your core muscles are the primary muscles responsible for keeping you upright and able to resist force, aligning the spine, ribs, and pelvis. Contrary to popular belief, the core muscles are not only the abdominal muscles. They consist of muscles throughout the abdomen, legs, back, and sides. Make sure you’re getting some kind of activity during the week, not just the weekend. Simply walking can help build your pelvic floor muscles working to alleviate back pain. Walking is an easy, effective addition to any wellness plan.
Try adding these simple activities to your routine to help prevent the development of unwelcomed back pain. Remember to always consult a physician before engaging in a new exercise routine, and don’t hesitate to contact a doctor if your condition is worse than a moderate backache.