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If you’ve tried all the solutions available to you for treating your chronic back pain and are still struggling with achy tightness through each day, you may be making these common back pain mistakes:
Focusing on your back
Did you know that your spine can experience excess shifting and pressure because of issues with your hips, knees, legs, and even your feet? If you’re experiencing chronic back aches and muscle strain, you might want to pay attention to the way you walk, your posture habits, and any musculoskeletal injuries you may have developed on the bottom half of your body. Under or over-pronating, for example, can lead to a domino effect of issues like slight femur rotation which can shift the hips, inflame joints, and cascade into back pain.
Think that it’s only your neck that suffers when you crane your head past your shoulders and stare down at the smartphone in your hand? Think again. Researchers have found that for the average head that weighs between 4.5 and 5.4 kilograms, each 15-degree tilt forward to stare down at a digital device adds more and more kilos of pressure to your spine, leading to strain, inflammation, and pain. Why exactly? Well, your back muscles have to work harder and harder to compensate for the added force of gravity trying to pull your head down as your neck leans further and further forward.
If you are using lower back pain as an excuse to avoid your daily exercise, you could be doing more harm than good. Experts actually recommend low-impact physical activity as a way to treat and prevent low back pain as it can help loosen stiff joints, increase blood flow to key tissues, and stretch and strengthen back and core muscles. Low-impact exercises like dancing, hiking, cycling, swimming, and yoga also play an important role in helping you maintain a healthy weight (being overweight is a key risk factor for back pain). When you carry excess weight, especially around your midsection, your center of gravity actually shifts and your back expends extra energy to help keep you upright.
Heading straight for the medicine cabinet
While popping an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen might seem like the easiest way to address back pain, you want to be careful. Extensive use of NSAIDs has been linked to stomach issues like gastric ulcers, and if you’re constantly on pain relievers, you might be missing real warning signs from your body about underlying musculoskeletal issues. Instead of medicine, try these pharma-free back pain solutions:
Apply a heating pad with adjustable temperature controls to relieve tension
Try spinal manipulation from a chiropractor or acupuncture
Administer an ice pack to numb spasming nerve endings
Rub on topical aids with natural pain-relieving ingredients like capsaicin or arnica
Stretch and meditate with mindfulness practices like yoga and tai chi
You may have heard that prolonged sitting has been associated with a host of lifestyle diseases, like obesity and diabetes, as well as early death. Did you know that excessive sitting is also detrimental to your back? Especially when combined with poor posture habits (like slouching, slumping, etc), prolonged sitting can result in extra stress on the vertebrae of the spine as well as stress on adjacent muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
If you catch yourself making any of these back pain mistakes, make a conscious decision to update your lifestyle habits for the better. Exercise more, stand more, sit up straight, hold your mobile device up at eye level when you use it, and talk to your doctor about potential musculoskeletal issues that could be impacting your body mechanics.