This blog is excerpted from a Real Simple article by Karen Asp, dated June 30, 2020.
Say you’ve been spending a lot of time (or all your time) at home recently, and a new issue has popped up: Your back has begun aching. Is it coincidence, or could your new stay-at-home life be causing issues? So what habits are you doing at home that might make that back ache more? Here are six to keep on your radar:
- Working in bed
Why it’s a pain in your back: Now that you’re working from home more frequently (or always), you’ve no doubt found some interesting spots to set up your office, your bed included. Yet if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to sink into a semi-reclined position, which can stress the lower back, Brian A. Cole, MD, FAAOS, orthopedic surgeon in New Jersey says.
The solution: Maintain the natural curve of the spine by placing an additional pillow behind your lumbar spine, Dr. Cole says. You might even purchase a reading backrest pillow to make your “office” more comfortable.
- Logging bad sleep
Why it’s a pain in your back: “Studies suggest that poor sleep quality is associated with acute low back pain,” Dr. Cole says. While nobody knows exactly what the connection between the two is, it’s a fact that daily activities can strain the body, and rest is an important component of soft tissue recovery. If you’re not sleeping well, you’re not giving your body the ability to recover.
The solution: If you’ve having trouble sleeping, talk with your primary care physician to rule out sleep disorders or other medical conditions like sleep apnea and GERD, Dr. Cole says. Otherwise, if you’re waking up with pain, two culprits might be your body position during sleep or your mattress. Sleeping face down can aggravate spine conditions like spinal stenosis, so if you have that, try to find a more comfortable position. And if you notice a depression or dip when you look at your mattress, it should be replaced or else your spine will follow suit. “The mattress should be firm enough to support your weight and at the same time, soft enough to accommodate the curves of your body,” Dr. Cole says.
- Slouching on the couch
Why it’s a pain in your back: Those Netflix binges can wreak havoc on your back, especially if your back is sinking into the couch. Contrary to what you might think, “it’s not so much a matter of how long you sit, but how you’re sitting,” Dr. Cole says.
The solution: When sitting, make sure you have solid support on your lower back. You should feel the support behind your low back, Dr. Cole says.
- Exercising in old shoes
Why it’s a pain in your back: Old shoes may be so worn that they don’t offer adequate arch support or protect your feet from rolling in or out as you walk, says Tammy Penhollow, DO, a pain management specialist in Arizona. However, a shoe with good arch support will prevent your feet from rolling in as you stand and move, which will help maintain the alignment of your legs, hips, and back.
The solution: Buy a pair of shoes with support designed for your specific arch. How do you know? A simple test will tell you if you have flat feet or a high arch, Dr. Penhollow says. Get your feet wet and step on cool concrete to see the outline your foot makes. If you can see only the outside of your foot, you probably have a high arch. If you see the ball of your foot, heel and outside of your foot, you most likely have a normal arch. Meanwhile, if you see the whole foot, including the inside, assume you have a low arch or flat feet.
- Baking all the time
Why it’s a pain in your back: You’re most likely standing on a hard surface for long periods of time, and if you’re not wearing supportive shoes or you’re going barefoot, you can get heel pain, especially if you have high or flat arches, Dr. Penhollow says. When that happens, you change how you stand and walk, which can affect your entire lower body from your ankles to your back.
The solution: Avoid cooking barefoot: Wear supportive shoes instead. Also, use good posture as you prepare food, being careful not to hunch over counters. Standing closer to the counter should help you stay more upright. And when you need a break, take it.
- Sitting too long at your (makeshift) desk
Why it’s a pain in your back: Not only are you probably cramming more work into that same eight-hour work day, you’re also likely not getting up and moving around as much. The problem? “Sitting puts 40% more pressure on your spine than standing,” Dr. Cole says.
The solution: When sitting, check the space between your back and the chair, and if there’s a gap, fill it with a pillow or lumbar roll, which will put you in a more balanced position, Dr. Cole says. Then take frequent stretching breaks as you sit. Follow Dr. Cole’s lead and stretch forward, hugging your knees for a minute as you sit to open up the back of the spine. Then stand and arch your back by bringing your stomach as far forward as you can. Finally, reach side to side with your hands while standing, trying to reach as far down your side thigh as you can, and then rotate the spine. Do all of these moves every hour—set an alarm if necessary—to minimize potential aches.
If Home Solutions don’t relieve pain, there is still help!
If you’ve tried these techniques and are still suffering from back pain, the Bonati Spine Institute can help. By utilizing the outpatient Bonati Spine Procedures, with techniques developed and patented by Dr. Bonati, patients have received amazing results and report a 98.75% patient reported satisfaction rating. To discuss your case with our team, simply click here or call us at 855-267-0482.
Read the full Real Simple article here: https://www.realsimple.com/health/preventative-health/back-pain-during-quarantine-at-home-causes