Protecting Your Spine Health This Winter
Between cooler weather in California and the need to stay at home during COVID-19, this winter may prove tricky on your spine. From the way we sit to immobility through the day, there are plenty of actions (or lack of actions) that can impact the health of our spine and cause issues down the road.
Here are some ways to show your spine some love this winter.
When we sit in a hunched position, our back, core, and abdominal muscles become strained, causing them to lose blood flow and go numb. Though the pain may resolve once you change your position, you’re slowly damaging your spine.
Over time, the intricate arrangement of muscles, discs, and joints (lumbar facets) in your back are also at risk of being pushed beyond their tolerable limit, causing chronic pain and even possible herniations.
Our everyday routines typically involve a combination of walking, sitting, lifting, and laying down. These actions may seem minor, but the habits we develop through the day can cause you pain. Everyday improper postural habits include:
- Living a sedentary (inactive) lifestyle.
- Slouching in your chair.
- Working from a laptop in bed.
- Lifting heavy objects by bending your back.
- Walking in a hunched over position.
- Laying on your stomach in bed, arching your spine.
Whether you work in an industry that requires heavy lifting, you work out or need to move something around the house, it’s important to know that how we lift can damage our spines. Lifting something heavy from the floor can cause the most immediate and severe pain.
When you lift an object, lift with a straight back and focus on lifting from your knees to avoid straining your spine.
Many of our patients spend their days sitting at a desk or spending long hours on their feet, not thinking about their posture. When they stand, they’re left with back pain and soreness. Over time, this improper posture can damage their spine and cause permanent damage.
As many of us continue to work from home, they find themselves sitting at their desk for long periods, without the need for movement for meetings and workplace socialization.
Many Californians may be working from home for the next foreseeable future, or have even made the decision to work from home permanently, which makes it important to ensure that you’re taking care of your body while in this new work environment.
If you spend most of your time sitting in an office chair, sit with your back flush against the back of the chair. Your shoulder blades should be back, your shoulders should be down and place your feet hips distance apart on the floor.
Sitting for too long can cause your body to tighten and stiffen — so it's essential to get up often throughout the day. When you sit down for long periods of time, it can be easy for your muscles to become stiff and compressed, leading to unwanted neck stiffness and discomfort.
While you work, be sure to get up at least once every hour to give your vertebrae a change in position. You can even set yourself a reminder every hour to get up and move — whether that's taking a walk or stretching. If you go for a walk, keep your spine straight and relax your head, with your head forward.
Although working from home was meant to be a temporary solution for many in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s proving to be a more semi-permanent solution. While you may be tempted to work from bed or on your couch for maximum comfort, this can actually lead to an increased strain on your neck and back due to awkward positioning.
If you work laying down, this can also lead to the deconditioning of the supportive muscles in your neck and back. As a simple solution, set up a table or desk where you can sit upright and do your work.
If you have a job that requires you to be on the phone frequently throughout the day, you may want to opt for a headset or a pair of headphones. This is because holding a phone to your ear or between your face and shoulder can also cause discomfort from improper posture.
By using a headset or headphones, you are able to maintain proper posture while being productive. If you have a wireless headset, you can even get up and move around while on a call.
Though you can make changes to your daily routine while at home or on the job to prevent back pain, these shifts may not be enough to keep the pain away permanently. Changing your position may relieve the pain temporarily, but if you experience chronic pain, you should consider seeking chiropractic treatment.
At Unruh Spine Center, we provide comprehensive healing methods that aim to not only treat your injury and ailments but promote long-term, whole-body health.
At your consultation, we’ll discuss your back and form a plan that may include a mix of our holistic and traditional treatment options, such as:
- Chiropractic adjustments
- Massage therapy
- Spine and/or trigger point injections
- Shockwave therapy
Contact our team today to book your first consultation. Unruh Spine Center