Chronic pain is frustrating. Back pain and neck pain can pop up as the result of an injury or from an existing condition, but a lot of times our daily activities are to blame. Here are six common everyday activities that you may not realize could be causing your pain.
1. Driving – Driving for long periods of time is sure to generate some stress on your lower back, especially if you’re not using correct posture. If you have a long commute to and from work or you are required to drive for extended periods, consider purchasing a lumbar pillow to place behind your back for added support. And always sit up straight with your back completely against the seat.
2. Sleeping – Another culprit of back and neck pain is your sleep position. If you’re waking up with a sore back or neck, consider altering your sleep posture. Stomach sleepers tend to have the most complaints because that position places stress on your spine - especially your neck, since you must turn your head to breathe. We encourage you to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your side with a pillow between your knees.
3. Sitting at a desk all day – Studies have proven that sitting for prolonged periods of time is detrimental to our health. Combat your sedentary day by moving more. Take small walking breaks every 30 minutes and use proper posture at your workstation. You may also want to consider using a standing desk.
4. Using your phone or tablet – Repeatedly looking down at devices throughout the day puts excessive stress on your neck, causing a condition we refer to as “Text Neck”. Limit time on your devices and when you must use your phone or tablet, hold the screen at eye level to prevent hunching over.
5. Carrying heavy bags – Whether you tote around a backpack throughout the day or have a heavy purse, your neck and spine can be at risk from the excessive weight. For backpacks, we recommend using both straps and keeping the pack as close to your body as possible. You could also opt for a rolling bag to help save your back. For purses, only bring with you what you’ll need for that day, and be sure to switch arms often.
6. Doing chores – Putting clothes in the washer and dryer, loading and unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, and all life’s other necessities are possible precursors to back pain from repeated bending and twisting. The key to preventing pain is always to be aware of your posture and work on correcting it whether you’re standing, squatting, bending over, or carrying heavy loads. One trick is to imagine that you have a fluorescent light tube strapped over your spine, from your head to hips. Try not to break the bulb when you move.
If you’re one of the 90% of people that end up experiencing back pain at some point in your life, contact us to help you pinpoint the exact cause and develop a treatment plan that helps you recover quickly.
Cliff Atwell, B.S., D.C.