Back pain often develops and escalates quickly, usually from simple, daily activities like carrying groceries, moving furniture or performing yard work. Once you experience back or neck pain, you are four times as likely to encounter it again. Follow these five tips to ward off spine pain and keep your back in peak condition.
Stretch and exercise.
Stretching is one of the most effective ways to keep your back and neck pain free. Basic stretches can keep your neck and spine loose and agile, reducing the risk of pain stemming from your everyday activities. Low-impact aerobics like swimming or walking are also effective in reducing your risk of back pain. A licensed physical therapist that is specialized in spine can help develop a stretch and exercise program to fit your needs and keep you safe.
Don’t just sit there.
Your spine wants to move. Putting the spine in a static position for extended periods of time can create stress, a common cause of back and neck pain. If you are required to sit for long periods of time at work or elsewhere, remember these tips:
- Stand and walk around at least once an hour,
- Use an ergonomically-designed chair or an orthopedic insert to support your spine,
- Try rolling up a towel and place it behind your lower back for added support.
Find a comfortable way to stand.
Prolonged standing can also strain the back. If you must stand for long periods of time, prop one foot on a small stool or telephone book to reduce stress in the low back and alternate with the other foot. Again, stretching can help loosen your muscles, ligaments, and joints, reducing stiffness and discomfort that can develop over long periods of standing.
Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it arches your back and puts increased pressure on your spine. Instead, lie on your back and tuck a small pillow under your knees. This position relieves pressure and unloads weight to the spine. An alternate position is to lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. If you like to sleep on your stomach, place a soft, flat pillow beneath your stomach to reduce the arch that can stress your spine. It is also necessary to use a mattress that provides optimal support for your back.
While traveling on a plane, it helps to raise your feet on a briefcase or a bag underneath the seat in front of you. Ask for a pillow to place behind your lower back to improve lumbar support. During prolonged flights, it is important to stand frequently and walk to the restroom whenever possible. Avoid sitting for longer than an hour or more at a time.