Raise your hand if you feel like you get more done by 9am today than you ever thought you would do in a week! Busy days running around taking care of family, working, and doing a thousand errands can mean self-care takes a hit. And if you have back problems, you might unknowingly be making it worse. Making some small tweaks to your daily schedule can make a big difference in how you feel.
1. Increase your fiber
Bet you’re thinking, “Well that’s an interesting recommendation!” So what does your fiber intake have to do with your back problems? A lot if you suffer from constipation. While it may be a somewhat uncomfortable topic to ponder, it will be much more so if you have to have it with your doctor because you strained your back while using the facilities. Increasing your fiber intake is so much better than having to explain to your loved ones how you hurt yourself.
2. Sleep tight
If you regularly wake up with a stiff back and assorted other aches and pains, or if you are tossing and turning all night, it might be time to get a new bed and pillow. You want to make sure you have proper support to keep your spine in alignment and help ensure you aren’t putting pressure on your back, hips, or joints. If a new bed isn’t possible right now, a change of position can help. Healthline has some great tips, but your spine doctor is the best person to ask for recommendations since they are familiar with your specific condition.
3. Go slow in the a.m.
Jumping out of bed at the first chime of the alarm is impressive (especially when most of us hit that snooze button a few times). But it might not be the best idea, especially if you have a history of back problems. Take a few minutes to relax in bed before getting up, and if your back or neck is stiff, exit the bed carefully so as to not worsen the pain.
4. Adjust your car seat
Commuting isn’t just a drag because you have to spend as much as a few hours a day (or more!) sitting on the highway. You can also be doing damage to your back while you’re at it. “A third of people with commutes of more than 90 minutes say they deal with ongoing neck and back pain, according to a 2010 Gallup poll,” said Health. “While back pain is one of the most common health complaints, only one in four people who commute 10 minutes or less reported pain in the same poll. The extra time spent sitting slumped forward in the driver’s seat or on the train could contribute to these issues.”
Sitting close enough to the wheel so you don’t have to stretch, adjusting your seat’s lumbar back support, using the tilt function (if you have one) to support your thighs, and raising or lowering your steering wheel to take pressure off your arms and shoulders are all methods you can use to help keep back problems away.
5. Build in some exercise
“When you’re dealing with the aches and oftentimes debilitating soreness of lower-back pain, there’s a good chance all you want to do is stay in bed,” said Prevention. “Yet, research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that any kind of exercise—whether it’s core strengthening, aerobic exercise, or stretching—is the best way to ease pain and reduce the risk of another back pain attack.”
Speaking of stretching…it’s probably something you’re not doing enough of, and even if you’re not an athlete, it can provide great benefits. “Runners and those who compete in athletic events are well aware of the benefits of stretching, but it may come as a surprise that it also helps patients with conditions such as diabetes and depression,” said U.S. News & World Report.
As it relates to back problems or any other pain you’re feeling, stretching “increases blood flow, boosts oxygen levels and helps deliver nutrients to your muscles. It also removes metabolic waste such as carbon dioxide, ammonia and uric acid. Sure, stretching helps athletes stay loose, limber and avoid injuries, but it can also benefit others in ways we might not have known.”
7. Sit up straight
If you think the best reason to improve your posture is because you can still hear your Mom bellowing, “Sit up straight!” in your head after all these years, we have a few more. That hunched-over position isn’t doing you any good. Not only can it create unsightly humps, it can also lead to degenerative disks and spine compression. Being mindful of your posture throughout the day can help. You can also take a few yoga classes to learn some techniques to help you lift those shoulders and straighten your spine.
8. Stop smoking
Studies show that most people who are habitual smokers want to stop. So if you need another reason to quit, here it is: “In addition to all the other health ills associated with smoking—this habit can also damage your spine,” said Reader’s Digest. Specifically, smoking can cause degenerative disc disease.
For more information about maintaining a healthy back and keeping back problems away, contact DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain. Minimally invasive surgical techniques mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever, with outpatient treatments, small incisions, and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.