What If Your Back Pain Is Caused By Your Bad Posture? Here Are Simple Tips To Correct Poor Posture And Reduce Back Pain.
Here at Restore Physical Therapy, we help a lot of people with lower back pain and neck pain, we recently had a patient come in with bad back pain and tension and discovered upon evaluating him that this was the result of bad posture. After talking with him about his hobbies and work, we realized he holds a desk job in which he sits for long periods of time, staring at a screen—one very big culprit of bad posture.
Desk jobs are fairly common, and even if you have a job that allows you to move more frequently, many of us are still guilty of developing bad posture, either through sitting at our computers, staring at our phones, or relaxing on our couch after a long day of work.
The results of bad posture can actually be worse than simply a little bit of discomfort, tightness, or pain. Over time, bad posture can alter the anatomy of your spine, increasing the possibility of constricted blood vessels and nerves or muscle and joint problems. These, in turn, can lead to neck and back pain, fatigue, headaches, and, in some extreme cases, problems with breathing and major organs.
That’s why I’m going to give you a few tips on how to improve your posture in different situations and straighten your back in the process.
If you, too, have a desk job, or are in any other kind of situation where you are sitting in an office chair for long periods of time, you want to first make sure that you are sitting with your back against the back of the chair and your arms are at a 75-to-90 degree angle. Your feet should also be planted on the ground, with your knees at the same level as, or even slightly higher than, your hips. And even if you have perfect posture, don’t forget to walk around and stretch from time to time. This will drastically improve your posture, stretch out your back, and make you feel better, helping you to make it through the end of the workday!
If you’ve noticed your posture suffering while standing around, catching up with friends, my suggestion is to keep your feet spread about shoulder-width distance apart and keep your weight mostly on the balls of your feet. However, if you’re standing for long periods of time, you can also try shifting the weight from one foot to the other or rocking back and forth from heels to toes. Keep your knees unlocked and arms loosely hanging at your sides.
Also, be sure your head is square on your shoulders. A good way to test this is to stand with your shoulders and bottom pressed against a wall. If your head is not touching the wall, this means it’s too far forward and you will need to tuck your chin in slightly to make sure your head is even and angled correctly.
If you notice yourself slouching while walking through a store or down the street, try focusing on keeping your head up, staring straight ahead, and your shoulders aligned with the rest of your body.
While driving, make sure to keep your back pressed against the back of the driver’s seat. Make sure that you can reach the pedals without stretching too far, leaning, or slouching down in your seat, and that the headrest keeps your head upright so that you are looking straight ahead while driving. Adjust the seat or headrest if you need to.
Lifting or Carrying Heavy Objects
I’m sure you’ve heard this next one a lot, but when lifting or carrying heavy objects, remember to ALWAYS bend at the knees, NOT the waist, and hold the object close to your chest. Make sure you are using the muscles in your leg and stomach to do the lifting rather than those in your lower back. When carrying a heavy bag, backpack or purse, keep it on the lighter side, if possible, and try to balance the weight on both shoulders or shift between both shoulders. Also, avoid leaning forward or hunching your shoulders. If the weight is just too much, consider using a backpack or suitcase on wheels.
Apart from occupation, sleeping tends to be another major culprit of bad posture we see in our clinic. A lot of this is caused simply from having the wrong kind of mattress. Choose first and foremost a mattress that feels comfortable to you, but if a softer mattress just isn’t working, try choosing a firm mattress to lend you good back support.
Also, try sleeping on your side or back, rather than your stomach, to reduce the tension placed on your back while sleeping, and make sure you have a good pillow to keep your head aligned with the rest of your body.
If you still experience a lot of back pain and tension when you get up in the mornings, try placing a rolled-up towel under your neck and a pillow under your knees (if sleeping on your back) to lend better back support. If you are sleeping on your side, put a fairly flat pillow between your legs, and this will help align the spine and take any added tension and pressure off of your back.
So there you have it, simple things you can very easily put into action in your day as soon as today, to improve posture and reduce back pain. If you don't do anything about it, it's likely to worsen and affect your ability to move freely.
P.S. If you would like more tips on how to ease back pain, you can download my free report that shows you ways to ease back pain naturally. Go here to get your copy and take it with you: www.restoreptllc.com/back-pain.
We may be tempted to blame our shoulder pain on the long winter months, but sometimes, there can be more to it than that. In fact, it may not be the weather that’s to blame at all, but our habits.
I would suggest starting off the day with stretching. Think about it. You have just spent the last 8 hours or so sleeping in the same position. This can cause your joints to get a little tight, just as they would if you had been standing or sitting in the same position for a period of time. That’s why it’s recommended to stretch 7-10 minutes per day, but even just a little bit of stretching when you wake up can make a difference.
Limiting the amount of time you spend on a screen can help as well. Too often when looking at our devices, we hold our heads down at a strange angle that our neck wasn’t designed to be in for extended periods of time. Try, instead, to only use your phone for about 8-10 minutes at a time and hold it directly in front of you. Use portable stands for tablets and e-readers, and place computers on a hard surface. This will allow you to look at the screen straight-on, rather than by tilting your head at an odd angle, and will keep your ears in line with your shoulders, which is the position our head and neck were actually designed to be in.
Reading at night can also cause a lot of shoulder pain. Reading is an excellent activity and a great habit! However, a not-so-great habit is that of bad posture while reading. This bad posture usually originates from struggling to hold the book upright while laying in bed or on your couch. Holding any size book for large amounts of time can tense up certain muscles in the neck, eventually leading to neck and shoulder pain. Try to only stay in the same position for 15 minutes at a time. I’m sure you’ll notice a world of difference!
Finally, begin to pay attention to when the shoulder pain occurs to help pinpoint the problem. Notice if it occurs more often after carrying a heavy purse or backpack, running errands, or sitting at your computer for hours at a time. From there, you can check your posture focusing on making sure you are looking straight ahead and that your ears are in line with your shoulders whenever you are participating in that activity.
With warmer weather right around the corner, there is likely to be a peak in travel at the local airports, and if you are one of the travelers embarking on a plane for vacation this season, you may want to take into consideration things that you could do on the plane to prevent or relieve back pain.
What may come as a surprise is the toll that flying can take on your back. Cramped legroom, uncomfortable seating, and being confined to a small space for long periods of time are several ingredients leading to back pain. A staggering 88% of people experience increased back pain following a flight. No one should have to endure back pain while they’re on vacation, so I thought I would give you a few helpful hints to help you eliminate this problem.
Back pain relief can start as early as the day when you schedule your flight. Trying to book a direct flight whenever possible will help shorten the amount of time in the air, as well as the number of times that you will have to lift your carry-on into the overhead bin. Also, try to make sure to get up plenty of times, or even stand at the back of the plane for most of the flight when your seat belt sign is off.
You may also want to plan for getting up and moving several times during your flight. Some of us may sleep well on planes and plan to doze for the entirety of the flight. However, if that’s not you, it may be beneficial to request an aisle seat for your trip. This will make it much easier for you to stand up and move easily around the cabin without disturbing your seatmates. Sitting too long in one position can cause tightness and pain, so being able to move and stretch more easily and frequently can be a huge benefit.
This leads right into my next tip. Make sure to do plenty of simple exercises at the back of the plane, or even in your seat if you are unable to get up. Try doing neck rolls or raising your hands high above your head to achieve a good stretch.
Also, if you are planning on taking on a carry-on, do your best to pack light. Any item you pack is one more thing that you will have to hoist over your head into the overhead bin or drag through the airport. For this reason, it’s important to pack light and check in any bags that you know you won’t be able to easily lift over your head.
This also applies during the remainder of your trip. Any time you go out or are exploring your destination, take a small backpack that distributes weight evenly as opposed to a shoulder bag that places an unnecessary amount of pressure on one side of your body. If you absolutely must carry a shoulder bag, switch it regularly from one side to the other throughout the day to reduce the stress placed on your body.
Let’s do our best to have a relaxing and pain-free trip this spring and summer season!
If you want more tips to ease back pain, you can download my free report that shows you ways to ease back pain naturally – it has some helpful exercises inside too which you can use on your holiday. Go here to get your copy and take it with you: www.restoreptllc.com/back-pain.