Top 5 Tips for Back Pain
This week, for your wellness neural-cultivating pleasure, we’re covering back pain and steps for you to Move Through It. Topics include:
Move along and sit up straight
Compression for healing
Stretch and strengthen
Treat your feet
Relax and repose
Almost all Americans experience back problems at one time or another. Nearly 65 million Americans have reported recent episodes of back pain. Around 16 million adults experience persistent or chronic back pain. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss work, and it’s a leading cause of disability worldwide. It is the sixth most costly condition in the US.
The human back is composed of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks, and bones, which work together to support the body and enable us to move around. Examples of back muscle overuse are strenuous workouts, heavy or unsafe lifting, sleeping in awkward positions, or accidents. Often back pain occurs from sitting too long and not enough moving. Another risk factor is excess body weight.
Fortunately, you can take measures to prevent or relieve most back pain episodes. This information is not medical advice. Please seek medical evaluation for prolonged or severe pain.
Move along and sit up straight
When it comes to back pain, bed rest may not be the answer. Human bodies are made to move – the more the better. Moving around will ease stiffness, reduce pain, and prevent muscles from weakening. Continuing to be active is best if we do it safely. Moving helps protect our spines throughout the day. Walking is a good choice. It's certainly one of the top 5 tips for back pain.
Practice good posture when you are not moving by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart while standing. When standing for long periods shift your weight from one foot to the other and toes to heels. Let your arms hang naturally. When sleeping, the best posture is on your side with a pillow between your legs to align your hips or sleeping on your back with a pillow behind your knees.
If you sit in front of a computer monitor, practice proper ergonomics including correct chair height, adequate equipment spacing and good desk posture. Ensure your monitor is at eye level – not looking down at the screen. Sit at least 20 inches (or an arm’s length) away from the computer screen. Relax the shoulders and be aware of them rising toward your ears or rounding forward throughout the workday. Rest your feet flat on the floor. Try not to cross your ankles or legs.
The Adjustable Posture Helix compression wrap is designed for those who sit at a desk or computer, providing support to the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the back. The Adjustable Posture Helix helps hold your shoulders back by applying comfortable pressure to your scapula, helping to ease myofascial upper back pain that can be associated with muscular imbalances from poor posture. It’s comfortable enough to wear every day.
Coach’s sidebar: Something I added years ago was putting a pull-up bar in my office doorway. Each time I walk through I knock out a few pull-ups and then stretch. It only takes a minute. This helps my core strength and stretches my back. You’ll be surprised how much this adds up if you do it every day.
The sedentary lifestyle is the main contributor to back issues. We are made to move frequently throughout the day. Don’t sit for more than 60 minutes. Changing positions often should become the norm. Every time you move from a stationary position your body must reset itself. This resetting is key to avoiding not only stiffness but ongoing back issues. It only takes a couple of minutes. If you find yourself feeling stiff and achy when you stand up from your desk, your body is telling you to move more often. Learn to listen to your body, and it will serve you well.
If needed, seek out a physical therapist to learn how to address more serious pain levels. They can teach you the best moves for your specific needs.
Compression for healing
Compression encourages quicker recovery. When a back compression wrap is advised, Body Helix has the most comfortable products available. Body Helix compression provides increased blood flow to the injured tissues and muscles. Our extremely high stretch Form-Fit fabric science is a perfect choice for nagging back pain support.
The Adjustable Back Helix compression wrap provides warmth and support for low back spasms, fatigue, and myofascial low back pain. It can also help with the management of injuries to the abdominal muscles. The adjustable strap ensures you can get the perfect fit, adjusting the compression level throughout the day if needed. And the comfort of the material means you can wear it all day and into the evening if you choose.
If you have muscle spasms related to arthritis, this product can help reduce your pain by keeping the affected muscles warm and supported. The width of the Adjustable Back Helix ensures you will cover your lumbar spine (low back) and, depending on your height, areas of your sacrum (tailbone) and the lower portions of your thoracic spine (chest). You can easily wear it during exercise without it feeling bulky.
The Adjustable SI (Sacroiliac) Joint Helix compression wrap provides compression for those diagnosed with sacroiliitis, SI sprain, or lumbosacral strain or sprain. The SI joint is comprised of ligaments that hold the bones of the back (sacrum) and the hip (iliac) together. Forces applied to these ligaments from trauma or during exercise can cause minor or major symptoms, including severe pain and inflammation. The compression and warmth of our compression may aid in reducing the pain and inflammation associated with damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around your SI joint. The Adjustable SI (Sacroiliac) Joint Helix provides support for a narrower region. It is sometimes preferred by those who are short-waisted.
Stretch and strengthen
When you build muscle strength and flexibility, the spine has the proper amount of support it needs to remain healthy. Hamstring and core muscles are important in back pain prevention. A definite top 5 tips for back pain.
Routinely participating in high-intensity sports that involve running, sprinting, and abrupt leg movements, such as basketball and tennis, are common risk factors for hamstring tightness. This negatively affects the alignment of the spine. If your hamstrings are tight your lower back and sacroiliac joints can be stressed, leading to pain. Hamstring stretching should be done carefully a few times a day. When doing any type of hamstring stretches, avoid bouncing. Enter the stretch gently and hold it. Pay attention to your form and perform steady, deep breathing while holding the stretch.
Strong core muscles are indispensable for every movement you make, from bending over to pet your dog to enjoying a walk in the park. Your core includes your abdominal, back, hip, buttocks and pelvic muscles. They’re crucial for athletes who want to maintain optimal performance. Your abs are the front anchor of your spine. If they are weak, then the other structures supporting your spine (your back muscles, for example) will have to work harder. By developing stronger core muscles, you'll be less likely to injure or strain your back muscles.
Treat your feet
Feet form the foundation for your body and play a critical role in helping maintain balance while standing, walking, and running. Podiatrists agree that footwear that’s less than ideal can contribute to back discomfort.
Running shoes lose their cushioning in as little as three months. Replacing these regularly can help avoid injuries and pain. Tight shoes also increase pressure on your feet and can affect alignment and gait. Make sure your shoes offer a little wiggle room in the toe area.
Unfortunately, the most stylish choices don’t always offer the best support or comfort for your feet or back. Comfortable, low-heeled shoes reduce the strain on your back while standing and can help prevent back pain. A one-inch heel increases pressure by 22 percent, while pressure rises by 76 percent with a three-inch heel. High heel shoes cause your pelvis to tilt forward, and the natural S-curve of the spine is thrown out of alignment.
Flip Flops? Maybe not. If you are spending a day at the beach or hanging out at the house, they’re fine. If these are your go-to shoes, you are more likely to develop back pain if you wear them every day. Well-cushioned shoes with proper arch support that absorb shock are both more comfortable and a better choice. Your feet, ankles, knees, and thighs – and back – will thank you for helping maintain the beautiful balance your body needs to be free-moving and healthy.
Relax and repose
Back pain can be linked to stress, tension and other non-physical problems. During times of stress, it’s not unusual to see an increase in our body’s inflammation response and the onset or return of chronic pain. This can be especially true of back pain.
A regular massage can help loosen muscles. Massage increases blood flow (circulation) throughout the body. This, in turn, delivers oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and helps eliminate any acids or other waste products that accumulate there, thereby relieving pain. Back massage therapy also provides greater flexibility, since relaxed muscles and limber joints allow for improved range of motion.
There is growing evidence that pain involves the mind as well as the body. Yoga, meditation, tai chi, and other mindfulness practices may help lift your mood and bring improved flexibility. In addition, these mindfulness rituals may be a non-drug alternative to help reduce pain. Endorphins released during these practices help alleviate the stress associated with back pain. Endorphins may help block pain signals from registering in the brain.
The back gives power to the body. It plays a major role in all body functions. Strengthening our back muscles should not be treated as a luxury, but rather an privilege. These muscles not only serve us in sporting activities and power workouts, but they also serve us in our daily lives. Remember this back regimen and stay healthy!
- Get moving and keep good posture
- Use high-quality compression
- Stretch and strengthen muscles to support the back
- Choose the right shoe support for your feet
- Relax your muscles and your mood
Now available at our store: Hydro Helix
You can find more info in a previous blog series, https://bodyhelix.com/back-hip-knee-injuries/.
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