Back/neck pain is the one of the leading reasons that people miss work in the US. Literal “pain in the neck” impacts quality of life and daily functioning to varying degrees. Most people will experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime. These episodes can be temporary or lead to long-term issues. Addressing back issues sooner, rather than later, can help to reduce the chance of a debilitating condition. Enablr’s physical therapist can help! View our therapy services page to learn more.
Since prevention is the best medicine, we have provided a few tips and tricks to protect your back and neck.
Pay Attention to Your Posture
Being mindful of your sitting and standing posture is key to protecting your neck and back. When standing, keep your head over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over knees. Often people will stand or walk with their head pushed forward or their shoulders in a slouching posture. This puts an extra strain on the back that over time can develop into pain. See the illustration below for proper sitting posture.
Take a Break from Sitting
It is important to get up and move! Sitting for long periods of time not only puts strain on the back muscles but it also increases the risk of other health issues. If you have a desk job, set a timer to remind you to get up every 30 minutes. Consider desk arrangements that allow you to alternate between sitting and standing.
Building strength, especially in core muscles, will allow your body to move better and tolerate gravity’s pull. If you need expert advice on how to start an exercise program, an Enablr physical therapist is available to help.
Keep a Straight Back, Lift with Legs
When lifting objects from a lower surface, squat down while keeping your back straight. Pull the object close to your body, then push up into a stand, lifting with your legs, not your back. This will keep the weight from pulling your center of gravity forward and putting strain on your back.
Carry Weight Evenly
Heavy purses and messenger bags slung over one shoulder or carried by one hand can pull the back and neck into a sideways position, putting extra stress on the back. Use both arms to hold and carry heavy items, distributing the weight evenly on both sides. Avoid twisting when carrying, instead turn your whole body, keeping your back straight.
Sleep. Sleep helps the body to repair
Sleeping on your back or side (not your stomach) is better for your back. Use a pillow that holds your head in a neutral position.
Avoiding Tilting Your Head with Phone Use
Tilt your neck sideways to talk on the phone or forward to look down at your phone can cause neck strain. Instead, consider using a headset for phone conversations and hold your phone up to eye level when looking at the screen.
Maintain Healthy Weight
More weight means more stress on the back, increasing the risk of arthritis and other injuries. Work to maintain a health body mass index (BMI). It not only helps the back but can help other health issues as well. Eat a healthy and well-rounded diet.
If you have back pain, you can schedule a physical therapy appointment with Enablr Therapy. Addressing back and neck pain issues when they occur helps to prevent them from becoming more chronic issues.
Enablr Therapy provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy services to help people to all ages and abilities. We provide in-person and live-video therapy sessions for clients throughout the state of Tennessee and select states.
EWI Works. (n.d.) Office Workstation: Proper Setup. Retrieved from https://www.ewiworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Workstation-Setup.pdf
Georgetown University-Health Policy Institute. (n.d.). Chronic Back Pain. Retrieved from https://hpi.georgetown.edu/backpain/#:~:text=Back%20pain%20is%20a%20leading%20cause%20of%20work%2Dloss%20days&text=Among%20adults%20who%20are%20working,due%20to%20illness%20or%20injury.