We all experience some sort of back pain at one point in our lives; in fact, about 30 million Americans suffer from back pain regularly! For many, these pains are indicative of larger health problems – from sciatica to multiple sclerosis. Fortunately, for most of us a few healthy tips and tricks can keep our backs healthy and back pain at bay for a long time.
- Improve your posture – Your Mother was right when she said “sit up straight!” Hunching over causes undue stress on your back and neck which leads to back pain and headaches.
- Exercise – Cardio and strength training keeps your back strong and the muscles that support it limber. When the supporting muscle groups are healthy and in shape, that leads to less strain and pressure on your vertebrae and fewer backaches. Many people are unaware of how important the abdominal and lateral muscles (core muscles) are in keeping your back healthy – if some muscles groups are weak, your back will have to do the work of several body parts. This double duty can cause damage over the long term.
- Fix your chair – Lumbar support is especially important for those of you working in office conditions where you remain seated for hours at a time. It is also key to adjust your chair to the right height:
a.) Make sure you are eye level with your computer screen, not arching your neck to peer down
b.) Your elbows should form a 90 degree angle with your desk
c.) Your knees should be at a 90 degree angle from your chair to the floor
d.) The chair should not be too high or too low as to be difficult to sit in or get up from
e.) Make sure you have lumbar support for the arch of your lower back; selecting a lumbar brace is a good way to guarantee structural support as you are seated
- Lifting and Loading – Many people make the mistake of bending from their back/hips while picking up boxes or other items. Be sure to bend your knees when picking things up so your knees bear the weight. This is one of the most common and avoidable injuries to your back! Just remember: Bend at the knees, not at the back!
- Sleeping situations – Each of us has different requirements for our bodies. Some people with back problems need very firm mattresses; others need a specific type of pillow for neck support. Be sure to talk to your doctor or a specialist about your particular conditions and pains to find the correct mattress and pillows to give you the support and rest you deserve! Most people benefit from a medium firm mattress that minimizes curvature in the spine.
- Check your feet – Flat footedness is a common and often unnoticed cause of back pain, if you are dealing with back pains, problems walking upstairs or knee or leg pains, talk to a doctor about getting fitted for orthotic insoles. Additionally, always wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes as poorly constructed or very high heeled shoes add strain on your back.
- Stop smoking – Smoking cigarettes impairs blood flow and blood transports oxygen throughout our bodies. When your blood flow is impaired, oxygen and nutrients cannot reach the spinal tissue it supports.
- Relax – Stress tenses muscles in your body and prolonged tension can cause pain. Release muscle tightness and stress by exercising, going on a walk or taking a soothing bath!
- Get a massage – Different massages exist to focus on different issues, but they will all relax and de-stress you as well as loosen key muscles groups that may have been tense or tightened.
- Avoid sitting for long hours – Walking and lying horizontally are the activities that put the least amount of pressure on the spring (standing is third and sitting is in fourth, the worst for spines).
Remember to listen to your body – if you are taking the necessary steps to eliminate back pain and still experiencing discomfort, talk to a doctor or specialist who can better address you condition and identify any health issues that need to be rectified. For some temporary conditions wearing a back brace for a brief period of time can alleviate the pain whereas for longer term issues, like scoliosis, a custom TLSO brace will be necessary.
About MMAR Medical Group: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of braces and supports. For quality back braces, including a wide lumbar and cervical braces, please visit www.mmarmedical.com.