A lot of the times when I am talking to my clients who are suffering from back pain and giving advice on what they can do at home to either prevent their back pain or simple remedies that can use to help reduce their back pain. Most of them are confused as to why they got back pain in the first place because for years social back pain has been associated with ‘car accidents’ or ‘major falls’. Although both of these can be extremely damaging to our spin, nearly 98% of the back / spinal issues I see in my therapy room are caused by a much smaller incident or a bad habit my clients have developed.
Our spines are very delicate as well as being very strong, and unfortunately a lot of us could be on the road to some extremely painful spinal / back issues if we are not careful to avoid the following simple things, that will cause us pain without ever realizing what we had done it cause it.
Lying on the sofa
At the end of a very busy day all any of us want to do is chill out on the sofa and watch TV (me included), but even this can cause back issues. Placing ourselves into a slouching position on the sofa reverses the natural curve of our spine and if this slouching position becomes a habit can result in serious spinal damage and pain. By watching our posture when we relax on the sofa will help reduce the likelihood of any spinal damage while we distress from our busy day.
Having to drive long distances regularly because you are lorry driver, taxi driver or having to commute long distance to work, without proper breaks can cause a number of back issues. Leaning over the steering wheel or not having your driver’s seat in the right position can lead to tight chest muscles which can then cause the shoulders to roll over, which in turn can cause back pain over a period of time. The way to get around this is by sitting in the car at a 90 degree angle or as straight as you possibly can, so your body still remains close to the steering wheel and you are not having to stretch over the wheel. Also try and avoid over extending your legs to much while driving, as this also puts pressure on your back. If sitting like this feels at all uncomfortable try using a lumber pillow to support the natural arch of your back. Also if at all possible take a 5 minute break while after every 30 minutes of driving, to walk around and stretch your legs, as this will help reduce the possibility of you experiencing back pain.
Carrying a heavy load
Ladies if you are anything like me, you have a habit of carrying heavy handbags, baby changing bags or heavy shopping over your shoulder. Or students if you anything like my children carrying heavy backpacks to and from school. But these habits of carrying heavy bags on our shoulders or backs are the culprit for causing back pack pain, either right now or latter on in life. This is because when we carry a heavy bag on one shoulder it puts excess pressure on not only our shoulder but also on our lower backs, not forgetting carrying a heavy load on one side of our body day in day out can also permanently disrupt our posture. Try carrying the lightest bag possible on your shoulder or your back, you bag should not weigh any more than 10% your body weight. Also alternate between shoulders each day with which side you are carrying your bag on.
Too much standing
I know this sounds like an odd one but it’s actually true, too much standing on our feet all day as the same effect on our backs just as sitting for too long does, as standing for too long pits extra pressure on our discs, which then causes discomfort and other potential problems to our spine latter on in life. The way to avoid back pain through standing too long is to shift your weight back and forth each side of your body every so often or with the help of a stool. For example if you are going to use a stool to help you, pop one foot up on the stool every so often while standing, remembering to change foot every so often, as this will change the curvature of your spin and puts your spin in a more naturally curving position.
Stress levels out of control
I know us therapists talk about stress all the time and may seem to blame stress on every health issue going, but yes stress does have a destructive effect on our health and even our backs. In fact both chronic and acute stress can trigger our back pain, as during times of stress different muscles in our body clench up, including those in our neck, back and shoulders (depending on how your body carries stress, personally I carry stress in my shoulders but I have a lot of clients who carry stress in their back alone). Then when our stressful time has passed the muscles that where affected, slowly begin to relax again which is important. Because if these muscles stay tightened over a long period of time because our stress levels are not going to be reducing anytime soon can then turn into pain, not only in our shoulders and neck but in our lower back too. There are lots of ways we can try and keep our stress levels under control, such as exercise, meditation, massage, mindful breathing etc..
Do you have any everyday habits that may be contributing to your back pain or do you have ant tips that we can try to help reduce our back pain? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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