Whether you’re dealing with back pain from a pulled muscle or a herniated disc, there’s no disputing one key fact: back pain is more than a nuisance. It can affect your sleep quality, work performance, and ability to enjoy everyday pleasures.
Managing back pain is key to restoring your quality of life, but interventional therapies, pain medication, and physical therapy aren’t your only options. Pinpointing any bad habits that affect your spine 一 and eliminating them 一 can help you avoid making your pain worse.
Read on as our team of providers here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center shares five bad habits that worsen back pain.
1. Sitting in a slouched position
If you’ve caught yourself slumping over your desk, you’re far from alone, but unfortunately, poor posture at your desk could worsen your back pain. When you slouch over, it throws your spine out of its natural alignment, putting too much pressure on your lower back.
Try these tips for sitting with a more ergonomically correct posture:
- Use a proper desk chair with lumbar support 一 you’re far more likely to slouch if you’re sitting on a stool or bench
- Adjust the height of your chair, so your knees are at 90-degree angles, and your feet are on the floor
- Stand up and stretch 一 slouching can be a sign that you’re tired, but a quick stretching break may help re-energize you
As a bonus, using proper posture when sitting can also help prevent neck pain.
2. Sitting too long
Even if you’re using proper posture, sitting too long can make back pain worse. It can put too much stress on the muscles in your back, neck, and legs. If you work at a desk, set a timer (or use an app on a smartwatch) and get up and stretch every 30 minutes. Walking around and stretching can do wonders for back pain, circulation in your legs, and even mental clarity.
3. Falling asleep on the couch
Do you ever fall asleep watching TV or reading a book on the couch? Many people fall asleep on the couch, and according to Business Insider, many find it easier to fall asleep on the couch rather than on their beds. However, this common habit can spell bad news for your back: many couches don’t support your spine the way it needs to be supported.
4. Sleeping in the wrong position
In addition to sleeping on a couch rather than on a supportive mattress, sleeping on your stomach or a too-soft mattress can further exacerbate pain. Instead, try sleeping on a firm mattress on your side or on your back. You can add pillows under your knees (if you are back sleeping) or between your thighs (if you are side sleeping). The simple addition of these pillows helps keep your spine in natural alignment.
5. Skipping your exercise … or working out too intensely
When you have back pain, the last thing you might feel like is heading to the gym for a workout. However, skipping your workout too many days in a row can worsen your back pain. Having a strong, solid core can help support your spine (and help reduce pain), but if too many days pass without a good workout, you’re more at risk for increasing back pain associated with a weak core.
On the flip side, neglecting physical activity all week and “making up” for it on the weekend can lead to an increased risk of injuries.
Moderation is the key. Try low-impact exercises such as walking, riding a stationary bike, cycling outdoors, or swimming. All of these low-impact activities help protect the discs between the bones in your spine.
What if you still have back pain?
Even if you replace these bad habits with better ones, you may still struggle with back pain. That’s because some causes of back pain 一 such as fractures 一 won’t resolve without the proper treatment.
The good news is that you’re never alone in your mission to find relief from back pain. Our team offers several potential treatments, including:
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Spinal cord stimulation
- Stem cell therapy or platelet-rich plasma (PRP)
- Surgical procedures, including kyphoplasty
If you need help managing your back pain, call the location of your choice to book your appointment. We’re conveniently located in Arlington, Virginia, and Washington D.C.