When back pain builds up over time, its source can sometimes be hard to locate accurately, especially if the exact cause is unknown. You can, however, assume that the pain may stem either from bone issues, disc misplacement, nerve problems or muscle tears. But which one is it?
Lower back pain is commonly caused by hips, ligaments, and spinal injuries. Two other frequent causes include spondylitis and irritation of the sciatic nerve – a pathway where back pain and leg pain travel back and forth. If you are experiencing back problems, you need to determine the type of patient you are. People who are sensitive to backward bending are called “extension sensitive”. Whereas, people who are sensitive to forward bending are called flexion sensitive. Knowing where you belong on the spectrum will help you and a healthcare practitioner understand the scope of the problem and how to address it.
Below are eight tips you can use right now to improve your posture and stave away back pain:
Feeling awkward while sitting erect is a tell-tale sign that you have a poor posture. A good posture while sitting down is when your back is supported by the base of the chair without you leaning forward or backward. Leaning back puts all your weight behind you, thereby dumping all your upper body pressure on the nerve sheath covering your coccyx. Apart from sitting down on the base of the chair, you can improve your posture by putting one leg forward and the other behind it. This will help anchor your back to a forward posture and prevent back pain.
When you consciously try to stand in a correct posture, you will notice that you are pushing your chest out, locking in your shoulders and knees straight while putting all your weight on your heels. This posture results to an arch in your lower back – an arch that you need to correct as soon as possible, as arching is a sure way of leading to more pain and problems in the future. What you are doing when you create this arch in your lower back is putting your body’s entire gravity pull on that specific area, gradually weakening your back strength…eventually leading to more and more back pain.
This is not the normal position of the spinal column. You have to be more relaxed while standing by simply dropping your shoulders and chest while standing straight. Make sure that your tailbone is dropped and you are supporting your body weight with the arches of your two feet, not on the heels. You will feel a slight arch in your lower back, but it will not be the awkward back-pain causing kind.
Get A Good Mattress
If you prefer to lie on your back, it is recommended for you to place a pillow under your thighs and knees. Sleeping sideways will require using a long and firm pillow in between your legs. This helps parallel your top leg to your bottom leg and prevent an incorrect angle. Side sleeping will also require you to put a pillow under your neck and shoulder to provide ample support. Avoid curling your legs to more than 90 degrees as this creates a slouching effect which is also bad for your back. Since people have different preferences regarding sleeping positions, the biggest factor you can control is your mattress. Ensure that it is soft, yet firm enough. Stay away from mattresses that are too soft or too hard and try to look for one that boasts its ability to support your spine. It can be pricey, but it is worth it.
Climb The Stairs Right
Climbing the stairs with the wrong posture will cause back pain. Make sure to shift your body forward while lightly squeezing your glutes. It is a bit of a work out, but it helps support your entire body.
Of course your posture and balance depend on the strength of the muscles surrounding and supporting your back. Have you noticed that injuries usually happen when a person tries to lift a moderate weight object as compared to a heavy weight one? That’s because the body is unconsciously lifting without thinking ahead about how much support it needs. Strength training will prevent this unconscious problem from happening to you.
Your weight is not just supported by your spine and back muscles. Your entire core has a major role to play in stabilizing your entire body. If you allow your core to weaken due to physical inactivity, you are setting yourself up for slouching. There are plenty of core muscle workouts you can follow (i.e., Pilates and yoga).
Optimize Your Space
Back pain sufferers are often people who live an inactive lifestyle. If you have a desk job that requires you to sit in front of your computer for 40 hours a week, you need to research on how to make an ergonomic workstation to ease back discomfort and prevent poor posture. Determine the appropriate height for your desk and chair. Getting a reclining chair that prevents back pain can also help. Lastly, your computer should be at eye level to prevent neck strain.
It can be difficult to be mindful of your posture when all your focus has been overwhelmed by the discomfort you feel. Instead of focusing on the pain itself, try to be mindful of your stance. If you catch yourself slouching, readjust your back right away. Performing routine posture checks will help you in correcting your posture in the long-term.
Written by K Jane of UnapologeticallyUs, and posted with permission.