Feel better immediately when you change these crazy, common habits.
If you’ve had an injury or accident, then these simple solutions aren’t going to solve the real problem of your back pain. That’s like telling someone their teeth will look better if they floss when they need braces. Real problems need long-term solutions, and for that, you’ll need to call a good structural chiropractor.
At Precision Chiropractic, we’ll take an X-ray to see what’s happening on the inside and get you on a treatment plan to prevent further deterioration and permanent damage.
But there is something that can be done for those general aches and pains we all occasionally feel.
Here are 11 things you might be doing every day to cause neck and back pain:
Sleeping on your stomach
Don’t you love getting under the covers and snuggling in for the night? It’s so cozy. But when you sleep on your stomach, you crank your neck to one side, forcing your vertebrae and the muscles in your muscles to strain and hold an unnatural position for hours. Not only that, you could be making things worse by adding the height of the pillow. Now, not only is your neck twisted, but your back is forced to be at an odd incline. Is it any wonder you wake up with terrible neck and back pain?
Using a lousy pillow
Like the story of the bears, you need a pillow that is “just right.” If your pillow is too thick, your shoulders won’t be able to rest on the bed. Not only that, but the height of the pillow may cause your neck to crane forward or twist awkwardly to the right or left. You may think the pillow is soft and cushiony, but it could be putting undue stress on the muscles that run along the sides and back of your neck. This will cause pain not only in the neck but in the shoulders as well. Pillows with no support, such as a down pillow, can be just as bad. With no support on the neck, the chin drops. When you wake up in the morning, you’re in pain. And when you lift your chin to look at the ceiling, you’ll feel the pain in the neck, shoulders, and back.
Laying on an old mattress
How do you know if your mattress is old? Well, if it’s over ten years old, it’s old. But even a mattress that’s only 5-7 years old may need replacing. Many factors play into the lifespan of your mattress, but if you notice a sag, hear creaks, or feel sore and unrested, it’s likely you need a new mattress. A mattress should offer support without being too soft or firm. If it’s too soft, you’ll sink into it, which will cause bad pain. If it’s too firm, you’ll also have back pain, hip pain, and neck pain at pressure points.
Listen, I get it. The right shoes make the outfit. But we aren’t designed to stroll through life on our tiptoes. When we do, we can cause severe problems—and it’s more than just back pain! Walking in heels destroys a stable foundation. It forces our body to move while also trying to keep you balanced. This can cause a problem in the toes, feet, heels, ankles, legs, back, neck … heels can even be the cause of headaches since they put so much pressure on multiple joints and muscles. Wearing heels might look good, but sensible shoes will help reduce back pain, so you feel good.
Wearing pointed toed-shoes
You can’t assume a shoe is good for you as long as it doesn’t have a heel. Flat shoes with pointed toes and flat shoes with a small toe box can also cause problems. And when we have problems in our feet, we walk with an odd gait to compensate for it. That compensation means we are forcing other joints and muscles to hinge and move unnaturally. Guess what happens? You got it: you start feeling pain! Maybe it starts with pain in your calves. Then you feel pain in your hip or lower back. Then your shoulders start to ache. It may sound crazy, but it’s true. Our body is all connected. When one part of it doesn’t move correctly, no part moves correctly. It’s sort of like that child’s toy that’s modeled as a geodesic dome. It’s fun to play with because it expands and contracts so beautifully. Our body is similar to that dome-when one piece moves; it causes an orchestra of movement across every other part.
Exercising on cushions
Some of the running shoes, walking shoes, and other athletic footwear are designed as though we need springs and three inches of cushion to perform well. We don’t. The ergonomics of your body require your feet to hit the ground in a certain pattern. If the foot doesn’t hit the ground correctly, you’ll have pain in your IT band, in the joints of your feet, knees and hips, and severe back pain, both in the lower back and all along the spine. Ask your chiropractor what type of support and shoe would be best for your favorite type of exercise.
Lifting with your back
Did you ever hear the phrase “put your back into it”? Well, it’s so wrong! You don’t need to put your BACK into it – that’s going to cause back pain! No. Whenever you lift, you lift using the strength of your legs and core. When you’re lifting a child, groceries, a box, or anything else, the proper position is to bend at the knees, drop into a squat, get a sturdy grip and then stand up without rolling the spine and putting pressure on the low back.
Twisting and turning
Think of how many times you twist at the waist during the day. Getting up from the floor, getting out of bed, reaching for something, bending over to pull something out of the cabinet, turning around in the car to talk to the kids. The examples are endless. Our bodies ARE made to twist. They are made to turn. But they are not designed to twist and turn at every odd angle—particularly when you add weight and pressure while you twist and turn. When you do this, even a slight twist could cause back pain.
Sitting too long
Even sitting can cause back pain and neck pain. Why? Because our body is made to move, not to be sedentary. When we sit for long periods of time, we put pressure on our low back. The muscles in our hip flexors become tight, shortened and rigid. We increase the strain on the muscles in our shoulders. Sitting has been compared to smoking in the bad effects it has on our body. So, instead of sitting all day, get up and move. Invest in a stand-up desk. Stand up every 15 minutes and do some squats, sun salutations or another low-impact movement. This will get your blood flowing, increase your energy, and in general, reduce the pain in your lower and upper back.
Looking at your phone all day
So you think you don’t slouch? If you’re like nearly every other human in the developed world, you look at your phone multiple times a day. And that causes people to slouch. This activity has led to new and painful conditions. One of them is called “text neck.” It’s the strain that’s caused by looking down at your phone instead of looking forward. This puts way too much pressure on your neck. The discs in your neck bear the pressure and that in turn puts pressure on your nerves. That’s when you have back pain! So look UP! Look forward. Look side to side. Move your head in the way it’s intended to move. But whatever you do, stop looking down at your phone all day! Because if you do, you’re going to have back pain along with that pain in your neck!
Watching TV & using the computer
Now, the computer and TV are not inherently evil, but often when we watch TV or watch a show on the computer, we’re slouched over, craning our neck to get a good look at the screen. Set yourself up for success by preparing your lounge space with some good ergonomics. Amazon sells great products that will hold your computer at the right height and angle when sitting on the couch or lay in bed. Wherever you sit, make sure you have adequate support for your back and neck and be sure you don’t twist your neck or lower back while you’re watching TV. Without attention to your position, you could find your method of relaxation is increasing or causing back pain.