If you are living with back or neck pain, you are among the 80% of people who will experience a significant episode at some point in their life. You will also be happy to know that most cases are not due to a serious health condition. In fact, only about 2% of low back pain cases end up being surgical candidates. If not because of some sort of disease, then why does your back hurt? While some reasons may be out of your control, such as a genetic predisposition to arthritis, many people suffer at the hands of their own daily routine. In other words, back and neck pain are largely preventable.
Below are five easy ways to replace bad habits with good ones and take a tremendous load off your spine.
- When you get out of bed, try to avoid bending down to put your slippers on. While you sleep the squishy discs between your vertebrae get rehydrated after having the water squished out of them while bearing your weight during the day. By the time you wake up they are engorged, making them prone to injury. Give your discs a chance to settle in and avoid bending forward too much while you go through your morning routine.
- Bring your phone up to eye level. Think about how many times you look at your phone each day. You are most likely looking down at it, which creates a lot of stress in your neck and upper back. An easy solution to this problem is to hold your phone up in front of you so you don’t have to bend your neck to see it. This will keep your spine in a neutral posture and help you avoid unnecessary stress on your neck.
- Your laptop is best used on your desktop. The desktop computer is on its way out, and laptops are now the norm. The problem with laptops is their name. Laptops are used everywhere in the home – the couch, the floor, the bed – but are rarely used at a table. This means that your laptop joins your phone as a posture buster. Do not use your laptop on your lap or anywhere else that causes you to have to look down to see it.
- Don’t be fooled by your couch. The minute you walk through your door after a long day of work, your overstuffed sofa starts calling your name. It’s ok, you can answer the call, just beware that couches were not designed with your health in mind. Comfort does not equal safety. Your couch offers no support for your back or neck, so next time you curl up to watch your favorite show, put a pillow behind your lower back for some support.
- Your bed is for sleeping, not entertainment. The worst thing you can do after slouching on your couch is go to bed and read, watch tv, or play games on your tablet. You prop up your neck and back as best you can with your pillows, but even the best of efforts will leave your spine begging you to just lie down and go to sleep. If you absolutely have to read in bed, turn onto your stomach. This will allow your spine to stretch and extend instead of flex and compress.
A pinched nerve in the neck or a slipped disc in the low back may seem to appear out of the blue, but the truth is they occur because of years of repetitive strain on the spine. When it comes to preventing back pain, little things really do mean a lot. Practice these five simple tips daily to keep your spine feeling fine.