Why Does My Back Hurt? (Part 2)
Last month, we discussed common causes of back pain including mattresses, shoes, diet, exercise, and posture. Here are some additional considerations…
- OFFICE CHAIR: Because of vast differences between people’s height, weight, body type, and preference, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to find a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to office chairs! In the ideal world, the option to sit, stand, walk, and stretch as needed would be perfect but this simply is not reality! Low back pain (LBP) from sitting is common due to the excess pressure it places on the joints and disks (the “shock-absorbers” of the spine). Here are some remedies: 1) Find a chair that FITS YOU. 2) Get up and move at least once every hour (set the timer on your smartphone as a reminder). 3) Place the computer monitor directly in front of you and keyboard/mouse so the elbows bend only 90°. 4) Keep your feet on the floor at your desk (use an upside down box if you have short legs). 5) Perform “in the chair” stretches when your timer goes off!
- BODY TYPE: We’ve discussed obesity as an obvious cause of back pain, but other factors are important as well. A very common cause of back pain for women is breast size. Here, the topic of a supportive bra is important, as carrying more weight in front of you adds additional stress on the back and shoulders.
- SHOULDER BAGS: Back pain can be caused and/or perpetuated by a heavy purse, bag, briefcase, and even a thick wallet in the back pocket! To keep your eyes level, your body has to compensate and assume a less-than-ideal posture that may place unnecessary stress on your back! So before leaving the house today, CLEAN OUT that bag and/or put your wallet in a front pocket and lessen the load on your spine!
- SMOKING: Smoking can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your cells, which can cause them to function at a less than optimal state. You’ve perhaps heard that a conscientious back surgeon will NEVER operate on a smokers’ back due to both the prolonged healing time and subsequent bad outcomes. So in addition to giving your heart, lungs, and those around you a break, if you want your lower back to heal, STOP SMOKING! Studies also show smokers are TWICE as likely to develop LBP compared with non-smokers, so quit. Better yet, DON’T START in the first place!
- STRESS & DEPRESSION: Remember, “health” is a balance between structure, chemistry, and mental factors. Stress increases muscle tightness and alters posture in a way that can lead to or exacerbate existing LBP. Exercise, meditate, eat smart, and resolve your differences with family members and friends to minimize this problem! When needed, your doctor of chiropractic can refer you for counseling!
- ERGONOMICS: How we “fit” into our job, lifting properly, workstation set up, work pace, and work stressors ALL play into LBP management. Have an assessment to see what can be fixed!
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