By: Jayson Goetz
Back pain is a common issue today for people of all vocations. More than one-fourth of U.S. adults experience back pain. Whether your job consists of heavy labor with a lot of bending and reaching, or sitting at a desk for long hours, your posture and movements can promote the development of chronic back pain. Usually this back pain is referred to as Sciatica (as most lower back pain occurs along the sciatic nerve). Changing habits and developing new ones, such as regular stretching, can help reduce and eliminate the pain with minimal disruption to your schedule.
Here are 5 lifestyle tips for eliminating back pain and maintaining a healthy spine:
If you have a desk job, you can start relieving back pain by changing your posture. Hunching over your keyboard constantly, will impact the vertebrae and cause a strain on your paraspinal muscles (the muscles running beside your spine). By sitting up straight while performing your duties at your desk, you can begin to reverse that process and lessen the effects on your back pain. In addition to this, you can invest in a standing desk, as the best stretching for your back pain is just simply alternating from standing and sitting positions throughout the day. Other simple tricks involve using your break times to walk and stay mobile. If possible, use opportunities to not spend your entire day sitting at your desk, even if it means only walking a little to eat your lunch in the break room or replying to an internal email personally.
A few minor stretches that can be done while you work at your desk are good habits to start integrating into your daily life. Rolling your shoulders in shrugs while typing or during calls is an ideal way to work-in small stretches throughout the day. When your hands are free, doing a large hugging motion around your upper body can help release tension in the lower back. Straightening your back and inclining your neck to look at the ceiling is another opportune stretch that doesn’t require you to leave your desk. None of these are quite enough to substitute typical exercise and stretching, but combined throughout the day can be used to supplement other, more intensive practices.
If your job has you bending, lifting, and pushing, those small stretches aren’t quite going to handle the sort of tension and stress you’re consistently subjecting your body to. Learning basic at-home yoga techniques can be a start for helping relieve lower back pain, provided they’re done consistently over time. Most will involve leg mobility and can help improve flexibility in addition to pain management. This includes simple poses like the child’s pose, where you lay face-first with your legs tucked beneath you and arms stretched out in front, which can relax tensed muscles in your lower back. If the basic yoga techniques are something you enjoy, consider regular yoga classes by a professional. Yoga classes will establish a regularity to your stretching and exercising and include a greater range of poses and stretches, which can help lessen your back pain. Hot yoga, taking place in a heated room to increase flexibility, is often used to help remedy back pain.
4. Low Impact Exercises
Preventative measures should be taken to curb any exercising or behavior that will stress or worsen your back pain. Many standard gym stretches and exercises can do this, but are easily substituted with similar, less stress-inducing positions. For example, try replacing toe-touching hamstring stretches with support or elevated stretches. Your hamstrings are still targeted, but the extra muscle movement from your back is lessened for more comfort. Walking instead of running/jogging is also a less-intensive alternative, due to jogging’s harder impact pounding from the lower body up. Another low impact exercise is swimming, which not only is a full-body workout but involves less twisting of the lower back.
5. Seek Professional Advice
As a rule, if your pain is consistent or worsening over several weeks, you should seek professional medical help and cease all strenuous activity. Minor back pain because of sciatica can be lessened with the help of lifestyle tips listed above, but intensifying amounts of pain indicate a more severe injury or condition that shouldn’t be handled at home. The most important part is to be healthy and comfortable, and exasperating the strength of your pain tolerance accomplishes neither. Only a doctor or other medical professionals are trained to properly treat intensive health issues beyond normal strain and continuing to strain your muscles could cause lasting damage.
With consistency and routine, you can diminish lower back pain. However, that’s the key: you must routinely make healthy choices and remember to commit to stretches and exercises for your pain. Scheduling times to walk and stretch throughout your workday, walk or swim in your free time, and perform the basic yoga poses are key to reduce sciatica pains.
Photo Source: Nutrition Stripped
Jayson believes there are many solutions to your back pain. Having personally suffered from back pain himself, he has tried them all. He started writing in hope of sharing his experiences with those who are looking for help.