Habits At Home To Relieve Back Pain
Mechanical back pain is typically the result of bad habits and can be treated with help from a chiropractor to better assess root causes.
Many of our daily habits are so routine we don’t even think they might be the cause of our issues. Most of the time, we aren’t even aware that we are doing asymmetric activities and the repetition of them is a large contributing factor to our pain.
- Sleeping: Try sleeping on your back, or on your side in a fetal position. The fetal position can help open up joints in the spine and relieve pressure by reducing the curvature of the spine. Always sleep on a firm mattress and supportive pillow. NEVER sleep on your stomach.
- Stretching: We work our muscles all day long, even if it’s just sitting. Give them a gentle stretch at the end of the day to release the tension and return the muscles back to their normal resting length. If they have been used all day and are not stretched, they will remain shortened. Shortened and unstretched muscles result in tension, tightness, and over time, discomfort or decreased mobility or flexibility.
- Sitting: Don’t sit on a leg, or with your legs curled up underneath you. Don’t always lean on the same armrest on the couch; this can strain one side unnecessarily and cause muscular imbalance.
- Standing: Keep equal weight on both feet. Avoid shifting weight on one leg while the other is bent, but this places uneven pressure on your pelvis and sacroiliac joints will contribute to multiple pain patterns.
Regular but Under-the-Radar Habits
Most of our pain is exacerbated by small repetitive things that are asymmetric and cause spinal unleveling. Many are second nature, but can lead to major imbalances and pain.
- Text Neck: Avoid spending too much time on electronic devices like a cell phone or iPad. Prolonged neck flexion results in elastic tension of the muscles to pull at the end points and leads to muscle strain.
- Pockets: Be sure you are not sitting on your wallet or phone in your back pocket. WHen sitting, transfer to a counter, table, or transfer to a front pocket. Even the height of an iPhone will cause pelvic imbalance and a kinetic chain breakdown leading to muscle strain all the way up to the skull.
- Heat/Ice: Alternate using heat and ice every 10 minutes for a sore neck or back. Always end the cycle with ice.
- Update running shoes: Workout shoes have an expiration date! Shoe manufacturers are focused on leaving less of an environmental footprint, but because of this, shoes are designed to break down faster. Replace your shoes every 400 miles or 9 months, whichever comes first. Once they reach that age, repurpose them for use as leisure, mowing the lawn, etc.
Choosing healthy habits is a foundational step to body wellness and relieving pain.
- Core exercise: Strengthen your core muscles with exercise, such as yoga, pilates, sit-ups, etc. Strengthening your abdominal or stomach muscles in addition to your back will naturally improve posture and reduce pain.
- Avoid a big belly:Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight. Excessive weight around your waistline puts strain on lower back muscles and causes a breakdown of the normal spinal curvature and abnormal pressure on the spine and joints.
- Quit smoking: Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can contribute to spinal disc degeneration. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis, and impedes healing in the body.
Changing everyday habits is the first step to decreasing the causes of muscle imbalance, strain and tension, and relieving back pain. For a targeted assessment of the habits most recommended for you, schedule an appointment with your chiropractor.