EXERCISING TO PREVENT INJURY
April 17, 2019

TOP 10 HABITS THAT ARE HURTING YOUR BACK

As a chiropractor, I see a lot of people in pain. 90% of the people that I treat initially present with an injury of some kind- usually neck or back pain. What causes all these injuries you may ask?

Well the majority of people are doing something repetitively in their every day life that builds and builds over time, eventually causing pain and injury. Most people think of injuries as something that occurs suddenly, like during a car accident or in a soccer game. Yes, injuries can occur during car accident, while playing soccer, and a million other ways. However, an injury can also be something that occurs slowly over time without you even being aware of it. This is called an overuse or repetitive strain injury, which can hurt your back over time.

OVERUSE INJURIES

Overuse injuries occur when too much stress is placed on one part of the body, often from repeating the same movements over and over again or being in a sustained or awkward posture. They can cause pain, inflammation, muscle strain and tissue damage.

In my experience, people have the same repetitive group of habits that often lead to problems down the line. So I thought I would write an article identifying the top 10 habits that are hurting your back.

1. Sitting too long.

Sitting causes 40% more compression to your spine than standing. It causes muscles to get shortened and tight, it weakens other muscles and is most definitely what I was referring to above when I mentioned being in a sustained or awkward posture.

2. Having your car seat at a bad angle.

Try to sit close to a 90 degree angle with your head against the headrest. At. All. Times. Position your seat to avoid reaching for the steering wheel and pedals. Also, try not to lean to one side while driving.

3. Skipping exercise when you have back pain.

40% of people stop exercising when they have back pain. It is an old wives tale that when you are having back pain you should rest until the pain is gone. Sadly, this is the opposite of what is true! Motion is lotion as they say! Lying still in one position is going to cause your body to stiffen up, which will make things worse. Also your spine needs impact (walking and movement) in order to hydrate your spinal discs, otherwise they can dry out over time and potentially lead to a disc herniation. If doing a certain movement makes your pain worse, then just avoid that movement or do it in smaller intervals based on your tolerance.

4. Overloading your purse, backpack or bag.

Make it a safe weight: max= 10% of your body weight. It is common to wear your bag or purse only on one shoulder, over and over. However, that awkward posture can wreak havoc on your back, neck and shoulders over time. One helpful tip is to make sure to rotate your purse to BOTH shoulders, taking equal turns. A good backpack tip is to pack the heaviest items closest to where your back will be when wearing the backpack. Also make sure to use both straps and tighten those straps until the bag is sitting comfortably on your back behind your shoulders, not down by your tush!

5. Eating an unhealthy diet.

Not only can excess weight take a toll on your back and body in general, but also eating a diet full of inflammation. A poor diet can cause aches and pains in places throughout your body. Foods that cause inflammation include processed foods, dairy, gluten and sugar. If you suspect that some of your aches and pains may be due to your diet, eliminate the above foods for two weeks and see how you feel! Also make sure you are drinking enough water! PS. Smoking is another factor creating excess inflammation in the body.

6. Sleeping on a bad mattress or pillow.  

Worn out mattresses that aren’t giving your body proper support will allow your back to sag and will put you in awkward positions, which can lead to pain and injury over time. Pillows are another aspect you need to consider when sleeping. A proper pillow should keep your head and neck neutral, not forcing it in any direction.

7. Wearing high heels.

Sorry ladies! But remember, these injuries are not from a one-time event but instead build up over time. Wearing heels for one night out is not going to kill you. However, wearing heels frequently will force the body into unnatural positions and eventually things will compensate, leading to pain and possible injury.

8. Letting stress build up.

Chronic stress is the body’s worst enemy. Stress during flight or fight situations activates the sympathetic nervous system, appropriately, to save your life. This system is designed to be used for short-term situations only (like running from a bear). However, chronic stress leads to inflammation, which can cause pain, tissue damage and even chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. In fact, stress is the common risk factor for 75%-90% of chronic diseases, according to some research studies. Stress and inflammation is a topic that is it’s own topic! The point: cutting down on stress and learning how to manage it properly can cut down on inflammation and lead to a healthier YOU overall.

9. Watching too much TV.

TV is NOT the problem. It is staying in one position too long, putting your body into awkward positions while in your favorite spot on the couch, combined with inactivity in general that are the real problems. Poor habits while watching TV can potentially lead to pain and a repetitive strain injury down the road. A few helpful tips are to cut your viewing time down, as well as stretch during commercials.

10. Ignoring back pain.

            “I have a high pain tolerance.”

            “It is just normal back pain.”

            “My mom has a bad back and it runs in my family.”

            “I just strained a muscle and I thought it would go away in a few days.”

            “Well the pain doesn’t stop me from doing most activities.”

            “I have always had back pain- since I was a kid as young as I can remember. It is just something I live with,”

            “If I don’t do {insert activity} it really doesn’t bother me.”

Ignoring back pain can lead to more pain and injury down the road. Pain is your body’s warning system trying to signal you that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. Addressing your problem early on typically involves less treatment, less pain and a speedier recovery.

Conclusion

Of course these ten habits are common in my office but are not the only habits that people have that lead to problems. Paying attention to your body’s mobility, your body’s position throughout the day and any signals it may be sending you will help keep you feeling and moving your best. Injuries happen, but responding to them early will lead to less pain and inconvenience down the road.

Author: Dr. Courtenay Schroeder

Owner & Chiropractor @ ProMotion Chiropractic

If you are in Charlotte and need extra help, book an appointment today at our Charlotte chiropractic clinic to learn how to start living a more pain- free and active life. Also check out our blog and learn some helpful tips to have a healthier back here.

Medical Disclaimer
The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for informational purposes only to promote consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. The contents of this website are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any questions or advice on any exercise, medication, nutrition or supplementation.

1 Comment

  1. Rick says:

    Proper sitting style is very much necessary for maintaining your back posture. As such this can also keep you fit.

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