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Five Ways Your Daily Routine Could Be Causing Your Lower Back Pain

February 27, 2018

By Amy Grutzmacher

Licensed Massage Therapist

Ah, low back pain. It’s so common. About 31 million Americans suffer from pain in their lower backs at any given time. We know the importance of maintaining a healthy weight to prevent pain. But what if you’re a healthy, active adult and that backache still won’t go away?

Though your lower back pain may feel permanent, there’s a good chance your pain is likely a symptom of something else going on in your body. If you can find the underlying cause of the pain, you might be able to stop it for good.

Examine your daily routine to see if one of these five habits is contributing to your back pain and learn how you can fix it.

1. You Work From Home.

Working from home can definitely be great! The problems arise when working from home really means working from the couch or worse yet, from bed. Both provide little support for your neck and back. It can be tempting to work on the sofa or lying in bed but this could be doing damage to your back muscles. By making a few simple improvements to your work station, you’ll be able to embrace the benefits of flexible working without the risk of back and neck problems.

Fix it: The key is to sit at a table, on a chair. Take regular breaks, walk around while on the phone and use your home to your advantage by adding in stretches whenever you can. Set the alarm on your cell phone and every hour, get up and do some quick shoulder rolls. Roll your shoulders back to counteract the forward shoulder position from sitting and looking at the computer.

2. You Sit Too Much.

Our bodies are not meant to be continually hunched over and in a seated position. For any muscle to work effectively, it needs to contract and expand. Sitting too much leaves us in one forward motion, resulting in our back muscles arched forward. That’s where the lower back pain comes in.

Fix it: Counteract the motion of sitting by lying with your back on an exercise ball with your arms stretched out wide or stretch over a pile of pillows. Do this on your lunch break or at home after a long day. You can also try using an exercise ball as your desk chair. There are special frames for purchase that turn your ball into a chair. This can improve the strength of your core and in turn, improve your posture.

3. You’re Using the Wrong Pillow or No Pillow At All.

To prevent back pain, you want your head and neck to relax. The ideal pillow position is when your head is lower than your neck. A 2016 study found that pillow height elevation significantly increased pressure on the head and neck and influenced the contracture of back muscles leading to pain and poor sleep.

Fix it: If you typically sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees to help recreate the normal curvature of your back. Side sleepers, draw your legs up toward your chest and place a pillow between your knees to level out the hips. Avoid sleeping on your stomach if possible. By sleeping on your stomach, you’re increasing the arch to your lower back and the strain on this region.

4. You’re Skipping Exercise.

You don’t have to engage in high-intensity training to help your back. A simple brisk walk can do great things! Exercise may reduce your risk of prolonged back pain. Studies have found that exercise can reduce back pain intensity by 10 to 50%.

Fix it: Go for a walk. Also try incorporating back and core strengthening exercises into your routine. A strong core assists the low back with the work of supporting the body. Start with crunches, planks, and side planks starting with 10 reps of each three times a week.

5. You’re Stressed Out.

Stress is one of the top contenders that could contribute to back pain. Many studies have looked at the effect emotions have on pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction can effectively improve back pain symptoms.

Fix it: Evaluate your stress level and start incorporating relaxation into your daily life. One way to do so this is through gentle yoga which can increase relaxation and decrease tension through meditation and gentle stretching.

Click here for more information about Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine or call 732-263-7999.

Twitter: @HMIntegrativeHM

Facebook: Hackensack Meridian Integrative Health & Medicine

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