Did you know eight out of ten Americans will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives? Given that statistic, it’s not surprising that back pain is the most common type of chronic pain reported by individuals of all ages.
If you suffer from neck or back pain, you might be at a loss as to what’s causing it. For many people, the culprit behind back pain isn’t always clear, especially if it’s tied to daily lifestyle habits. While those habits might seem innocent enough, over time, they can contribute to spinal misalignments, adhesions, and other musculoskeletal issues that can be quite painful.
Fortunately, if your back pain is due to the way you move, sit, lift, or dress, you can help alleviate it by altering your lifestyle. The experts at Bomberg Chiropractic share which habits you should avoid to get your body back on track.
Sitting All Day
Do you have a desk job? Are you a student? Do you spend a little too much time lounging around with your best friend Netflix? Then chances are you’re sitting way more than is healthy, and all that sitting is likely wreaking havoc on not just your spine, but your entire body. How?
Prolonged sitting triggers several undesirable physical issues, including:
● Shortening of the hip flexors
● Rounding of the shoulders
● Hunching of the upper back
● Compression of the abdomen
When your hip flexors shorten, they start to pull your pelvis forward, which can result in a condition called anterior pelvic tilt. This condition negatively affects posture by encouraging your spine to curve abnormally, which triggers a cascade of physical consequences that can cause back pain and make it difficult to maintain proper posture.
If you tend to sit with poor posture (your upper back hunches and your shoulders rounded forward), anterior pelvic tilt will only make things worse. And, if your abs are weak from prolonged sitting in a hunched position with your stomach compressed, they can’t provide the level of stabilization necessary to give your spine the support it needs.
So what can you do about back and neck pain caused by too much sitting? First, you can visit a chiropractor for an evaluation and treatment planning based around your unique needs. But treatment won’t correct the issue if you don’t also take measures to correct your posture and reduce the amount of time you spend sitting each day.
Lugging Around a Heavy Bag
Carrying a heavy purse, satchel, or backpack can overstress your spine and lead to back pain in a hurry, especially if you’re lugging your bag around incorrectly. While a chiropractor can help correct issues and chronic pain caused by daily bag carrying, you’ll need to correct your habit for long-term relief. If you don’t, your nagging issue will only return as you fall back into the same postures.
To help correct back pain caused by a purse, bag, or backpack, lighten your load if at all possible. Sort through the things you usually carry with you and try to lug around only your essentials. Ideally, a backpack should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight to reduce your risk of developing back pain. The same guideline applies to purses and satchels.
When you carry your bag, try to keep it as close to your body as possible and avoid leaning to one side or hunching over. If you use a backpack, always carry it with both straps to spread the load evenly across your back.
Wearing High Heels
Though your heels might be the perfect complement to your outfit, they’re a surefire recipe for back pain, and for many people, buttock, calf, ankle, and foot pain too. It's not uncommon for heel-wearing individuals to experience low back pain and sciatica because of the way heels alter the body’s normal alignment.
When you wear heels regularly, your hip flexors and groin muscles tighten, which can change your normal gait. Over time, your glute muscles and lower back muscles will attempt to compensate for the change and can end up tightening or even spasming as a result.
Beyond the risk of low back pain and glute pain, heels can also cause calf, ankle, and foot pain as they force your feet into a very unnatural position. Heels also change the posture of your entire body every time you wear them, which can have compounding effects on your entire back.
If you consistently wear heels and experience persistent back pain, a chiropractor can help correct the problem. However, your chiropractor will also recommend ditching the heels in favor of flatter footwear that provides substantial support.
A 2016 study published in The Cureus Journal of Medical Science found that back pain was more prevalent among both current and former smokers than among people who’d never smoked. The study also found that the number of cigarettes an active smoker consumes each day is directly correlated with the level of back pain they experience. So how exactly is smoking related to back pain?
Researchers aren’t totally sure, but there are several hypotheses. We know smoking increases levels of pro-inflammatory substances in the body, which may amplify the perception of pain. Some researchers also believe that nicotine’s excitatory effects may alter pain perception, thereby increasing self-reported perception of pain.
People who smoke also tend to cough more than those who don’t, and some researchers assert that the mechanical stress caused by repeated coughing may contribute to low back pain too. If you’re a smoker who lives with chronic neck or back pain, kicking your habit is the first step toward long-term relief.
Staring at Your Phone or Other Electronic Devices
How often do you look at your phone during the day? Do you even know? If you suffer from persistent back pain or neck pain, take a minute to look at your phone’s screen time statistics. How many hours are you spending glued to that screen each day?
As mobile smart devices have risen in popularity, chiropractors everywhere have coined a new condition: text neck. This aptly named condition is actually considered a stress injury, which results from repetitive stress on the vertebrae, muscles, and connective tissues in the neck and upper back.
When you’re constantly looking down at a phone or tablet, you put your neck in a highly unnatural position. You overstretch the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in both your neck and upper back while dramatically increasing stress on your cervical vertebrae.
Over time, these issues can result in painful problems, including:
● Chronic pain
● Muscle spasms and knots
● Limited mobility
A chiropractor can determine if you’re suffering from text neck symptoms and help alleviate your discomfort with a variety of treatments, including chiropractic adjustments and massage. But to enjoy long-term relief, you’ll need to improve your phone habit, practice better posture, and perform strengthening exercises, which your chiropractor can recommend.
If you’re dealing with upper back or neck pain but don’t use your cell phone excessively, check out these other common causes of neck and upper back discomfort.
Poor Lifting Technique
Do you know how to lift heavy things off the floor properly? Or do you just bend over and grab stuff? If you’re prone to lifting things without paying close attention to your posture and the muscles you use to generate force, you’re probably lifting incorrectly and that misguided habit is hurting your back.
What can you do about it? Learn how to lift safely! Make sure that when you pick something up off the floor, you squat down to grab it — do not hunch over! Hunching puts far too much stress on your spine and lower back muscles, especially once you start to lift the object. That stress can injure your spinal discs and cause muscle strain. If the stress becomes too much, your spinal discs can even bulge or burst.
In addition to squatting, you’ll also want to make sure you’re using your legs, not your back to lift the object up. When you squat down to grab something, activate your glute and leg muscles to come back up with the object in hand. Be sure to keep your spine in a neutral position as you rise. Be careful to keep heavier objects as close to your body as possible while you lift them to reduce stress on spine and back muscles.
Do You Suffer From Chronic Back Pain? Bomberg Chiropractic Can Help
If you suffer from unrelenting back pain or neck pain, let our team at Bomberg Chiropractic get your body back on track. We specialize in gentle chiropractic adjustments, movement-based massage, and several other forms of chiropractic care designed to relieve pain and encourage natural healing.
To schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help you, call our New Hope, MN office today at 763-450-1755. You can also contact us online, and we’ll be in touch!