There are many small habits that we do everyday – the way we sit, stand, move and use our bodies that can cause poor posture, stress on muscles and pain in the long term. Here are 8 tips for preventing back and muscle pain.
1. When standing or sitting, stop crossing or folding your arms across the front of your body. That position tends to bring your shoulders forward and over time creates a cramped ‘round shouldered’ posture. Long term, this habit can create a permanently rounded upper back and associated weakness in the thoracic spinal muscles.
2. When sitting, do not clasp your hands together in your lap. If you are sitting upright, your elbows should be hanging relaxed and vertically aligned under your shoulders. Your hands resting gently on your mid upper thighs, allows your shoulders to stay back and for you to have your chest upright and elevated, breathing deeply into the lungs.
3. Carrying a heavy handbag repeatedly on one shoulder places enormous pressure on the nerves and muscles and over time can cause imbalances in the upper spine. Use the handle and hold the bag in your hand, changing sides regularly. Don’t keep your wallets and keys in your back pocket as they may create a pelvic imbalance when you sit.
4. Stand with your feet apart, not together. Standing and sitting with your feet together can put pressure on the iliotibial band which stretches from your hip to your knee and can create that outer thigh, leg ache. The wider you are in the hips, the further apart your feet may need to be. So simply changing the way you stand over time may help prevent pain.
5. Do not cross your legs (standing, sitting or lying) – besides putting pressure on nerve pathways and possibly triggering pain, that position can affect circulation and lymphatic drainage to the lower limbs.
6. When standing, take your weight evenly on both feet. Don’t slouch onto one hip or lean to one side. This places huge strain on the pelvis and back. If you are required to stand in one spot for any length of time, keep your body weight evenly distributed and simply bend the back of the knees ever-so slightly. Alternately place your buttocks and back flat against a wall and maintain weight evenly on both feet. If you find this difficult to do, it can be an indication that are structural imbalances and you may benefit from physical correction.
7. When lifting, first move in close to the object, bend your knees, hold your stomach muscles in tight before and as you lift. Do not over reach or twist.
8. Be aware of how you are entering or alighting from a car. Getting out of a car, most of us tend to ‘throw’ a leg out and start walking. To avoid strain on the hips and pelvis, keep knees together, tighten stomach muscles and turn the trunk of your body to the open car doorway,, sit close to the edge of the car seat and swing the legs out together if possible, placing both feet on the ground. You can use your arms to lift your legs if necessary. Try not to get in and out of a car if it is parked on a slope, flat even ground is better for back and leg pain conditions.
I hope these 8 tips for preventing back and muscle pain have got you thinking! Do you do any of these habits? Is it time to change them up?
Please get in touch if you need further assistance with your back and muscle pain.