When back pain flares up, you’ll do just about anything to relieve it. But instead of thinking in terms of the best position to relieve pain in the lower back, think in terms of how to avoid it in the first place.
I’m often amazed at what we demand of our bodies. We pound on it, deprive it of sleep and nutrition, and then expect to go through life pain-free and healthy. That’s just not how it works. Our bodies were created to operate by specific laws and mechanics. When we violate them, we wear down the machinery.
When we “wear down our machinery,” we create structural problems that snowball into secondary and tertiary health issues. Our physical maintenance is very much like any other maintenance: relationships, cars, houses … when we ignore small problems, we incubate big problems. If we ignore a small leak, for example, water can get under the flooring. Left unattended, it will eventually cause immense damage not only to the floor but also to the rooms below it as water seeps through the floor to the ceiling below.
Same with our body. We can injure ourselves without hardly knowing—through a fall on our bike when we were a kid. Or from playing competitive sports high school and or taking a tumble on the slopes. Heck—even being pulled through the birth canal with forceps can cause injury. These small injuries often shift or dislocate, a bone in our spine, and the resulting misalignment can wreak havoc when it’s ignored or managed through medication.
Chronic back pain and other health issues are the results of these untreated misalignments. And, so, people look to find the best positions for back pain. But the best solution is to find the source of the pain and fix that misalignment. And the doctor most qualified to treat the misalignment is a chiropractor.
If you’re suffering from chronic back pain, call me at Precision Chiropractic of Durham. I’ll sit down with you to talk about your pain history and, if you’re ready, even take an x-ray to get a clear picture of any shift in the bones of your spine.
Your nerves run through your spine, and a misalignment in those bones can pinch the nerves. That means you’ll not only suffer from chronic back pain; you’ll also have other health problems, such as a lowered immune system, insomnia, digestive issues, and more.
Treat Your Body Better: Positions The Help With Back Pain
Because the cause of every person’s back pain is unique, it’s impossible to tell you what positions will help with your back pain. But, there are universal positions that are mechanically incorrect, and so when we avoid these positions, we help reduce back pain. Here are five common positions that can cause chronic back pain flare-ups.
Crossing Your Legs
The two most common ways people cross their legs is a “closed” cross and an “open” cross. The closed cross is as it sounds: one leg crosses over the other, and the foot of the crossed leg is suspended in the air.
I want you to imagine the position of the hip bones and spine, not to mention the pressure it puts on your veins and circulatory system. This is a terrible position for our bodies, and yet people hold the position for hours. Avoid this position, particularly if you already suffer from back pain.
The second way we cross our legs is by placing the ankle of one leg onto the knee of the other, which forms an open, triangular space. Again, imagine the stress on your spine and hips as you hold this position for hours at a time. When we think about what’s happening at the structural level, it’s easy to see how this position can cause back pain. And let’s not forget about the enormous pressure it puts on the bent knee!
To avoid back pain, sit with your two feet on the ground. Don’t cross your legs at all. This allows your hips to hold a firm foundation and keeps the spine aligned correctly so you can avoid that chronic back pain that comes from crossing your legs and putting stress on the bones and joints.
Sitting on a wallet
Just as crossing your legs shifts the foundation of your hips and can cause back pain, so can sitting on a wallet. Two problems contribute to back pain when you sit on a wallet: number one, which we’ve already mentioned, the hips are unable to sit straight. This prevents the spine from staying aligned and can cause hip pain, lower back pain, and even neck and shoulder pain. The mechanics of our body allow us to move multi-directionally, but we aren’t meant to strain ourselves by holding these positions for long periods.
The second problem with sitting on a wallet is that it has the potential to pinch the sciatic nerve, causing pain to race down the side of the leg.
Instead of sitting on your wallet, find a place for it that won’t put you at risk for back pain, such as in your jacket pocket.
Leaning on the arms of your chair
Armrests are lovely if you have a lounge chair where you can lay back and relax. But they can cause a lot of problems when they’re used on our desk chairs because when we’re tired, we often lean on the armrests. This is not the best position and could cause neck and back pain. Here’s why: when we lean on the armrest, we put pressure on the elbow, and that raises our shoulder. All the muscles in our upper back, shoulders, and neck are strained. This position exasperates back pain.
A cousin to this problem is when we lean on the desk. Now, not only do we strain all the shoulder and upper back muscles, but we’re also straining the muscles down the entire length of our body as we lean forward.
Add to that the strain we put on our shoulders and arms from operating the mouse from this angle, and you can see why it’s best to avoid this position when we have back pain.
Standing with weight on one leg
You know the position you assume when you’re waiting … say, in line at the grocery store? You cock one hip out to the side and then rest your weight on that hip. Stop doing that. Standing in that unbalanced position for long periods can compress nerves and also put pressure on your lower back.
When you do that, you cause back pain originating in the hips and lower back, but it affects the entire spine, shoulders, and neck. Instead, stand with feet hip-width apart. Have soft knees so you can move quickly—you don’t want anything to be tight and tense. Keep your core engaged to maintain your balance and a straight spine. Now, as you stand or wait, move around a little bit.
So many people move their weight from one cocked hip to the next. This position is going to cause back pain, especially if you’re also looking down at your phone and straining your neck.
Keep in mind the importance of posture in preventing back pain. As much as possible, keep your spine in alignment. If you find that position is uncomfortable, contact me at Precision of Durham and let’s find out if a structural problem could be the cause of your back pain.
High heels or shoes that pinch
The shoes we choose often put us in bad positions that cause back pain. Think about how the body is trying to balance itself when the heel is elevated one, two, three, or more inches off the ground. Shoes with elevated heels strain our muscles, put pressure on the lower back, and prevent our body mechanics from moving naturally.
But it’s not just shoes with heels that cause us to sustain bad positions that cause back pain. When our shoes don’t fit right, for example, the toe is too narrow, or the length is too short, our feet don’t move correctly. Our body has to compensate in some way for this obstructed movement. And the way it compensates is by putting stress on the muscles and joints, which eventually causes pain in our back.
Find shoes that don’t elevate your heel, and that gives your foot room to move in a complete, natural full range of motion.
For normal, everyday back pain, consider the positions you put your body in throughout the day and try to avoid positions that strain your body and keep you off balance. However, if you are conscious of your posture and natural ergonomics and you still suffer from back pain, contact Precision of Durham so that we can take a look at your structural alignment. Natural, safe chiropractic care can treat structural misalignment, so you’re able to enjoy life more without chronic pain.