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Posted on 08-21-2017
March 4, 2016
Are you suffering from back pain but can’t understand why? Here are 8 things that might be the cause and what you can do to correct it! Sometimes you know immediately what caused your back pain: moving heavy boxes, falling or other accident, digging a hole, bending over in the garden. Other times, you’re perplexed. Here are 8 things that might be creating your pain.
1. Too Much Sitting
Sitting all day is one of the worst things you can do to your back. This inactivity weakens our muscles, joints, and discs, because movement is necessary to pump the vascular system provide oxygen to the tissues. If we’re stationary, that’s not happening.
Many of us have jobs that require us to sit at a desk or in a vehicle for long stretches. Additionally, most people sit in a position that’s harmful to their spine: either slouched over, leaning forward, or leaning backwards. Sitting may seem like a resting position, but it actually puts almost twice the pressure on the low back and spine as standing does.
How to help:
Stand up every 15 to 30 minutes. Stretch out, move your shoulders around, and clasp your hands behind your back. Download free software at workrave.org to flash screen reminders to take computer breaks (you set the frequency).
Think about your posture. Put your chair in a position that you can sit up straight to do most of your work. Keep your feet flat on the floor and your eyes in line with the middle of your computer screen.
Put a lumbar roll, throw pillow, or a rolled-up towel behind the small of your back to help your posture when sitting. It will help you maintain the natural curve of your back. If you use a recliner, make sure the back of the chair supports your lower spine, as well as your shoulders and neck. Avoid recliners if you have a low back disc condition.
Get a proper chair for work. The backrest should incline slightly backwards and have a lumbar support. You should be able to sit all the way back in the seat while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Choose a chair with armrests that support your arms comfortably while still fitting underneath your desk.
2. Sleep Undoes You
We spend a third of each day in our bed. Sleeping with the neck or spine in an improper position can cause a variety of back problems. If your mattress is too soft or too firm you may wake up every morning with a sore back. If you have a pillow that’s too high, it will cause your neck to flex unnaturally. If we twist or turn in our sleep, the torque on our spine may cause vertebrae to move out of place.
How to help:
Pick up a cervical pillow to help keep the curve in your neck supported.
If you’re a side sleeper, a flat pillow between your knees and a fat, round one (like a body pillow) between your arms will help. For back sleepers, a round pillow under your knees and a small one under your lower back is best. Do not sleep on your stomach.
If your mattress is too soft, put a sheet of plywood between the mattress and the box spring to give it more support.
Purchase a better mattress. Try a new mattress out by lying in your regular sleeping position for 10 minutes. Your back muscles should feel relaxed and supported. Consider the company’s return or exchange policy, as you probably won’t know for certain whether it’s going to work until you’ve slept on it for several nights.
3. Laptop on Your Lap
When you set your laptop on your lap, you hunch over, hyperflex your neck to tuck your chin into your chest, and type with your arms at an odd angle. This can cause numerous back and neck problems.
Because laptops put your monitor directly above your keyboard, one or the other will be at an improper position: either you are looking down at your monitor or reaching up to type. Either of these positions will stress your shoulder and neck muscles.
How to help:
Use a laptop workstation that allows you to put the screen at eye level and add a separate, full sized keyboard and mouse at elbow level. When you sit up in your chair, spine straight and head centered over your shoulders, your eyes should focus on the center of your screen and your elbows should be at a comfortable 90 degree angle when typing.
If you must compute on your lap, put your laptop on a portable laptop desk. Be aware of its position and your posture. On a plane, get a folded airplane blanket and put it on the tray before setting your laptop on it.
4. Lifting and Repetitive Motion
The back muscles protect the spine from overextending by imposing a high compression force on it Studies have found that “repetitive lifting tasks fatigue the back muscles and increase the bending moment acting on the lumbar spine…adversely [affecting] the balance between bending and compression” 1
Even though the objects you are lifting may be as light as a feather, the repetitive motion of lifting can cause problems. If you muscles are already fatigued, simple tasks like twisting and bending to put dishes in the dishwasher or turning over in your sleep can exacerbate back pain.
How to help:
When you lift, face your work, squat with your back reasonably straight and your knees bent. This will minimize the stress on your low back.
Even though the objects you are lifting may be as light as a feather, the repetitive motion of lifting can cause problems. If your muscles are already fatigued, simple tasks like twisting and bending to put dishes in the dishwasher or turning over in your sleep can exacerbate back pain.
Keep your feet wide apart and keep the lifted object as close to your body as possible (the further the object is from your body, the greater the stress on your low back.) If you have difficulty bending your knees, avoid lifting heavy objects.
CAUTION: Even if you lift everything correctly, you can develop back pain from repetitive lifting when your muscles fatigue.
5. Handbags and backpacks.
The way you are carrying your handbag or backpack, as well as its weight, can affect your posture and impact your spine. If you sling a strap on one shoulder, your opposing shoulder will subconsciously rise to counterbalance, causing the spine to curve unnaturally. This can cause problems in your lower back and sacrum, as well as your neck and upper back, as the muscles spasm and become stiff and tight to manage the load and adapt to your new posture. The curve in your neck may also flatten out, giving you what’s known as “military neck”. Repeated daily, this stiffness can actually develop into arthritis of the neck.
How to help:
Choose bags with handles you can hold with your hands and longer straps you can wear across your body to better distribute the weight. If you must wear it on your shoulder, keep the weight down, choose wide straps and a strap length that allows your arm to swing at the side of your body while carrying it.
If you are carrying a backpack, be sure to put on both straps. This will allow an equal distribution of weight across the upper back muscles. Put the heaviest items on the bottom and make the weight even on the right and left sides.
Back packs should have an ergonomic design with padded back and shoulder straps. Chest and hip belts can help transfer some of the weight from you back to your hips and torso. Fit the backpack to your body so that it hangs less than four inches below your waistline to avoid excess pressure on your shoulders, which can force the spine to curve forward when you’re walking.
Whatever you are carrying, keep it at 10% of your body weight or under. If you weight 140 lb., 14 lb. should be your limit.
6. The pain of fashion
Any clothing that restricts your range of motion or changes your body’s shape (as in very tight or stiff clothing) can cause muscle strain, resulting in harm to your spine. This harm isn’t exclusive to older individuals; it affects your designer teens and preteens the same.
Skinny jeans and pencil skirts are major offenders. Skirts so tight that they force your knees together and jeans that are so tight that they restrict movement of your thighs, hips, and knees will change the way your body moves and put additional stress on your joints.
High heels tilt the pelvis forward, the buttocks backwards, causing the spine to be hyper-arched and putting strain on the lower back. They can be a chief cause of sciatica, with pain that radiates down the leg.
Heavy necklaces and halter tops can pull the neck forward, causing strain on the neck and shoulder muscles.
How to help:
Choose fabrics that have some stretch to them, resulting in clothing that is snug without being skintight. You should be able to easily slip a finger under the waistband.
If you wear heavy necklaces or halter tops, do so for short periods of time and be aware of your posture, keeping your shoulders back and keeping your ears in line with them.
Avoid the narrow stiletto heels and opt for a wedge, which decreases the tilt and pressure and increases the stability. Choose sneakers or flats with arch support for everyday wear and keep the heels for special occasions if at all.
7. Text Neck
By constantly bending our necks to read and work on our cell phones and other electronic devices, we put a strain on our necks and spine that can cause serious, lifelong problems. When we bend our head forward and down, as we typically do while working on these devices, we put 27 to 60 pounds of pressure on our necks, causing conditions that, if left untreated, can remove the natural curve of the neck and require surgery.
How to help.
Lift your phone to eye level or hold your neck straight and look down with your eyes instead of bending your head toward your phone. Take frequent breaks and exercise your neck.
After working on your device, stop to evaluate your posture. You can install an app on your phone that will alert you if your neck is in the wrong position.
For more information on the causes and cures for text neck, click here
8. Uneven hips
If one side of your pelvis is slightly higher than the other the imbalance may cause lower back pain just doing the activities of daily living. If you have persistent back pain when you are exercising, uneven hips may be the culprit. How to help:
Don’t cross your legs while sitting. This will jam your sacroiliac joint and cause an imbalance in your sacrum or hip area.
Sit in a chair. Bring one foot across the opposite leg. Place your hand on your knee. Apply pressure against your hand with your knee. Relax your leg,
Chiropractic Care Can Help...
If you are experiencing back, neck, or shoulder pain, chiropractic care can help!
Many times your pain is the result of one or more of your spinal vertebrae (back bones) moving out of position (called a subluxation) and creating pressure or irritation of the nerves that exit between each of the vertebrae of your spine.The pain you feel is your body's attempt to alert you to a problem that needs to be taken care of.
Your nervous systems controls and coordinates all the functions of your body. This pressure interferes with the nerve's ability to transmit information and will cause the organ systems or other parts of your body that it communicates with to not function correctly.
Untreated, the body adapts to these changes and they can cause lifelong problems. Massage or physical therapy can address the pain caused by these subluxations, but will not correct them.
Chiropractors are the only professionals who have years of training to become experts at correcting subluxations. Chiropractors will work to reduce or correct the subluxations with chiropractic adjustments. Chiropractic adjustments also help increase your range of motion by helping your muscles and joints return to a healthy state.
Your body and spine mechanically and physically function better with chiropractic care!
If you want relief from your back, neck or shoulder related pain, call us at 417-725-6655 and we’ll help you determine the treatment program that’s right for you.
Dr. Hunter Greenwood DC ND MTAA is a chiropractor and naturopathic physician, certified in acupuncture and acupressure, with over 30 years experience locating and treating spinal subluxations. He utilizes the Thompson Pnuematic 440 table, the most advanced adjusting table in the world. This table utilizes air pressure to cushion your body and help the adjustment be more effective, giving you the most comfortable and precise adjustment possible. Dr. Greenwood practices at Chiropractor Plus, 1361 West Mount Vernon Street in Nixa, Missouri.
Dolan, P., and M.a Adams, “Repetitive Lifting Tasks Fatigue the Back Muscles and Increase the Bending Moment Acting on the Lumbar Spine.”, Journal of Biomechanics 31.8 (1998): 713-21. Web.
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