Back pain is very common in the population and often can become chronic. Our spine has three different curves that occur naturally. Our lumbar spine and cervical spine have the same curve and the thoracic spine has the opposite curve. There is less stress placed on our spine when these curves are maintained. Many times during the day whether we are sitting, lifting or doing activities around the house, we diminish or reverse these curves in our spine. When we repetitively do this, often times it can lead to back pain.
Here are a few tips to help improve posture during your daily activities.
It is very easy to slouch when sitting especially if you work at a desk for most of the day and are using a computer. One thing you can try is rolling up a towel, a bit smaller than a bath towel and putting it behind your low back, in the arch. You can put a rubber band around it so it doesn’t unfold each time you stand up. Make sure you are sitting all the way back in the chair when you put it behind your back. This towel will help keep the arch in your back and will make you more aware of your posture. If you find this is a big help,you could consider buying a lumbar roll. You can also use this roll at home when sitting on the couch or in the recliner. There are many other ways you can improve your workstation or sitting area to encourage better posture and a healthy spine. Christine Whitney, PT offered some of these tips in a recent blog as well. Check it out here: 10 Tips for a Better Workstation Set up
Sleeping can often times be a very painful for many people due to low back pain. Here are a few things to try before you go out and buy a new mattress.
- If you are a side sleeper try using a pillow in between your knees. This will help to keep your hips and back better aligned.
- If you are a back sleeper you can try using a smaller lumbar roll under your low back and you can even try it if you sleep on your side. If you have a softer mattress it may not give your back the support it needs and this roll can help to support it.
- Try using ice, heat or even stretching before going to bed as well. This may make sleeping less painful.
When walking we typically have pretty good posture throughout our entire spine. If you have a job were you have to sit for most of the day, try setting a timer for every hour to remind you to get up and walk, stretch, etc. There is less pressure on your spine when you walk compared to when you are sitting. Try this at home too, I know it’s easy to get stuck watching tv and before long you realize you have been sitting for two hours. Try to avoid this if you can - even if you aren't experiencing back pain. You want to try and walk and move before your pain gets too intense. Walking is great exercise and for many people can help to decrease their low back pain.
For more information on some stretches that can be done throughout the day to help decrease low back pain, learn how Less Low Back Pain is Only a Stand Up and Stretch Away.