14 Jul 2020

TIPS TO PREVENT BACK AND NECK PAIN

Due to our sedentary lifestyle, a working pattern involving sitting at one place for long hours takes a toll on our Spine. It makes us susceptible to frequent episodes of back and neck pain. A sedentary lifestyle has made back pain and neck pain very much common these days. The main reason behind this is our wrong posture and lack of certain precautions at the workplace. Our unhealthy lifestyle choice adds further to this. If we can address these issues with proper precautions, it can help us work pain-free.

Here are some tips for you to protect your Spine and prevent back and neck pain:

PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN AT WORKPLACE:

 

  • MAINTAIN A GOOD POSTURE WHILE WORKING ON COMPUTER AT WORKPLACE:

While working in front of a computer, certain precautions need to be taken to maintain a good posture. When we sit and work in a bad posture for a long time, it puts a substantial strain on our muscles, bones, joints, ligaments and can also disturb the alignment of our Spine. It can lead to muscles and joints, getting overworked and fatigued and can lead to chronic pain in the back and neck region. If we follow certain precautions to maintain a good posture while working, we can protect ourselves from persistent back and neck pain:

The following care should be taken to maintain a good posture while sitting on a chair and working on a computer/desk:

  1. Adjust the height of your computer screen in such a way that you should be looking straight at it.
  2. The hight of the computer screen should be at your eye level.
  3. The distance between the Computer screen and your eyes should be optimum so that you do not have to bend forward or strain your eyes. (If required, adjust the distance or change the size of the text and or the font)
  4. While sitting on a chair, ensure that:
  • Your Spine is in line with the back of the chair.
  • The back of the chair should be at an angle of 100-1100 and not 900.
  • If a chair does not have lumbar support, then use a rolled towel or a cushion to give support to your lower back.
  • Adjust the height of the chair in such a way that both your feet should comfortably rest flat on the ground. If you are too short then, use a footrest to keep them.
  • Your knees should be parallel or slightly below the line of hips while sitting.
  • Ankles should be in front of the knees.
  • Avoid crossing your legs.
  • Forearms should be parallel to the ground and comfortably rested while typing.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and straight. (Do not slouch).
  • The neck should be straight with chin parallel to the ground, do not protrude it beyond shoulders.
  1. Keyboard and mouse should be slightly lower than your forearms, precisely kept in a keyboard tray below your desk.
  2. Do not keep anything (E.g. Mobile, Wallet, etc.) in your back pocket while sitting.
  • PRECAUTIONS TO BE TAKEN WHILE USING SMARTPHONES:

Most of us have the habit of bending our neck and looking down at our smartphone while reading or texting, etc. We continue doing it without being aware of the amount of strain we are putting over our neck (Cervical Spine). Can you guess how much strain it can be? You won’t believe, but it is equal to carrying a child on your back. Considering that on average, we spend a minimum an hour on our smartphones every day, that’s a lot of load on our neck. All that force could eventually put a substantial amount of stress on our Spine. It leads to its early degeneration which ultimately manifests into chronic neck pain.

  1. Hold the Smartphone at Eye-level or at least at chest level while reading or texting. It minimizes the bend in our neck and helps in maintaining an optimal posture of the Spine.
  2. As far as possible, avoid standing while typing on your smartphone. Sit on a comfortable chair, rest your arms on the armrests and then type. It will reduce the strain on the muscles of neck, shoulder and back.
  3. Avoid talking for a long time on your phone, and if there is no option, then one can use a hands-free device or headphones.
  4. Never twist your neck to hold your smartphone between ear and shoulder while speaking. It puts a lot of strain on your cervical spine and neck muscles which can give you chronic neck pain.
  5. Avoid holding your smartphone in one hand while typing, as it can put an uneven strain on one side of your hand, neck, shoulder and back. Instead, use both the hands.
  6. Always consider making a phone call wherever possible instead texting long messages.
  7. Be aware of the time spent by you on your smartphone at one time. Take breaks after short intervals.
  • TAKE FOLLOWING PRECAUTIONS WHILE LIFTING AN OBJECT FROM THE GROUND:
  1. Always bend your legs while lifting an object from the ground. Avoid bending from your back as it can put a considerable strain on your back muscles and Spine, which can manifest in back and neck pain.
  2. If the object is heavy, do not try to lift it alone even if you can do it, always ask for help.
  3. Avoid any twisting action while lifting an object from the ground. It can cause sprain and result in back pain.
  4. Whenever and wherever possible, try to push the heavy object instead of pulling it.
  • OTHER PRECAUTIONS:
  1. DO NOT CARRY YOUR BAG ON ONE SHOULDER:

Most of us carry our Laptops, Smartphones, their respective chargers and much other stuff in the office bags while travelling from home to the office and back. In this scenario, it is advisable to use a bag which will distribute the weight equally on both the shoulders.

  1. Do not sit for too long at your place while working; instead, get up for at least 5 minutes after every 1 hour. (If possible take a short walk around your desk/workplace)

LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS:

  1. EAT A HEALTHY DIET
  • A diet rich in refined sugar, transfats, Fructose, all-purpose flour/Maida (e.g. Cakes, pastry, burgers, deep-fried food, packed processed food, etc.) can be harmful to our health. It generates many toxic chemicals, which develop inflammation within the body. It not only puts us at the risk of health issues like obesity, diabetes, hypertension but is also responsible for aches and pains at various regions in our body, including back and neck.
  • Eating a balanced diet (Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, beans, healthy oils, {Adequte omega-3 in ratio with omega-6}, milk, eggs, etc.) keeps us healthy. It does not generate such toxic chemicals in our body. It helps in preventing inflammation and various health issues (As mentioned above) associated with it, including back and neck pains.
  1. GET ENOUGH VITAMIN D AND CALCIUM
  • For the development and maintenance of our muscles and bones, Vitamin D is essential. It is also necessary for the absorption of calcium into our body.
  • Low vitamin-D levels reduce the absorption of calcium in our body. Insufficient calcium levels can make our bones weak, potentially leading to bone and joint pains, muscular pains at various sites, including back and neck.
  • Thus it is necessary to have optimum Vitamin D and calcium in our body to keep our muscles and bones healthy and strong. It also helps in prevention of back, neck or any other pain.
  1. DO REGULAR EXERCISE UNDER EXPERT GUIDANCE TO STRENGTHEN BACK AND NECK MUSCLES.
  • The muscles in the abdominal and back region (Core) of our body provide excellent support to the bones, joints and ligaments of the Spine (Thoracic and Lumbar). Muscles in the neck perform a similar kind of function (Giving good support to the cervical Spine).
  • Sedentary behaviour and inactive lifestyle make these muscles weak. Thus, Spine fails to get sufficient support. It makes the Spine vulnerable to the injuries even at a minimal strain, resulting in frequent back and neck pains.
  • Regular exercises under an expert’s guidance can help in stretching, strengthening, repairing and improving flexibility of these muscles of the neck and core region. It also improves the blood circulation in these muscles, which provides proper nutrition and makes them durable.
  • Strong, durable core and neck muscles can provide excellent support to our Spine and minimize the chances of suffering from chronic back or neck pains.

TAKE A REGULAR WALK:

  • The muscles of our trunk, lower back (core) region play an important role in maintaining the stability of our lower back and Spine. Our sedentary lifestyle over a while makes these muscles weak, stiff and prone to injuries and pain. It also disturbs the normal alignment of our Spine, causing chronic pain.
  • Regular walking helps in opening up of blood vessels in these muscles, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to them. At the same time, it also helps in flushing out of the toxins which are accumulated within these muscles. It reduces their fatigue, improves flexibility and makes them strong and durable.
  • Walking improves the support to our Spine by strengthening the muscles of the lower back, core and trunk. At the same time, it reduces the stress over it, thus preventing the risk of frequent back pains.
  • Other than the benefit mentioned above, walking aids in many ways in reducing our back pain, such as:
  • Regular walking also improves the functioning of muscles, ligaments and tendons of Feet, Hips, Legs and Spine. It further aids in the flexibility, stability and improved range of motion of our lower back which reduces the chances of awkward movements and risk of injuries and pain.
  • It strengthens our bones and helps in weight loss.
  1. STAY WELL HYDRATED
  • Insufficient water intake for an extended period leads to chronic dehydration.
  • Intervertebral disk a spongy gelatinous structure is present between the adjacent vertebrae in our Spine. The gelatinous substance present in its centre is made up of water which makes it spongy. The primary functions of this disk are to provide cushioning to the vertebrae, preventing friction, act as a shock absorber and provide mobility.
  • When the body is facing chronic dehydration, this gelatinous material loose water, it makes disk vulnerable to collapse. It can increase the friction between the adjacent vertebrae, put pressure on the sensitive nerves exiting the vertebral column, which can result in back pain.
  • To prevent this, it is crucial to drink sufficient water and keep oneself well hydrated.
  1. STOP SMOKING
  • Smoking increases the level of toxic chemical circulating within the body, which further increases the risk of inflammation and pain all over the body, including at back and neck.
  • Smoking narrows down the lumen of blood vessels and slows down the circulation. It reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, joints, ligament at the lower back, leading to their degeneration and subsequent pain.
  • Nicotine reduces the absorption of calcium in our blood. Without sufficient calcium, our bones become weak and vulnerable to injuries. If this happens in the lower back or neck region, it can manifest in chronic back and or neck pain.
  • Chronic smokers develop respiratory diseases. These diseases are associated with chronic cough—frequent episodes of coughing increase the strain over the muscles of the lower back, resulting in pain.
  1. KEEP YOUR WEIGHT UNDER CONTROL
  • It is always important to be watchful and keep our weight under control. Weight gain or obesity is associated with the accumulation of excess fat around our abdominal region and hips. This excess weight around the tummy pulls the pelvis (Hip girdle) forward, which puts an extra strain over the muscles and ligaments of the lower back and the Spine. To compensate for this excess strain, the Spine and lower back muscles are stressed unevenly. It increases the chances of injury to the disk or other spinal structures, which manifests as chronic pain in the lower back region.
  • The excess fat that is accumulated in the body of an obese person release harmful toxins. These toxins can degenerate the intervertebral disk and also the vertebrae making Spine further vulnerable to the injury and pain.
  1. TAKE SUFFICIENT SLEEP
  • Sleep is necessary for the healing of the wear and tear happening within our body throughout the day. It also helps in proper relaxation of each system of the body.
  • Inadequate or lack of sleep inhibits the proper relaxation of our musculoskeletal system and also interferes with their natural healing. Insufficient sleep can trigger the release of pain-causing toxic chemicals within our body. Thus it makes the musculoskeletal system more vulnerable to chronic aches and pains.
  • Thus getting sufficient sleep is essential for our muscles to get proper relaxation and healing to reduce their stress and prevent chronic back or neck pain.
  1. MAINTAIN UPRIGHT POSTURE WHILE SITTING, EATING, STANDING (DON’T SLOUCH):
  • Incorrect posture, when maintained for a long time, can put a lot of strain on the muscles of the lower back and neck and also the Spine.
  • When this continues for a long time, it can change the anatomical characteristics and alignment of the Spine. It can create problems with muscles, ligaments nerves around the Spine. All this can finally manifest into the chronic neck or back pain.
  • Thus, maintaining good posture while standing, walking, sitting, eating, etc. is very important to prevent chronic back and neck pain.
  1. WEAR GOOD-FITTING CLOTHES TOO TIGHT CLOTHES CAN PUT A STRAIN ON YOUR MUSCLES AND CAUSE BACK OR NECK PAIN

     Wearing clothes that are too tight or constricting can impair our normal range of motion. It can create more stress and strain over the muscles in our back, neck and shoulder region, which increases the chances of developing aches and pains in these regions. Thus, we must always wear good-fitting clothes to prevent unnecessary back and neck pain.

  1. BE AWARE OF THE FOOTWEAR YOU USE.
  • It is essential to be aware of the footwear we use if we want to prevent chronic pain in our back.
  • Footwear with a heel higher than 2 inches can impair the normal back posture. It can disturb the alignment of the Spine, which may put more strain on the back muscles causing frequent aches and pains.
  • Even the footwear which is too tight, too loose or flat can put uneven strain over our back muscle due to the abnormal posture created by them causing frequent back pain.

 Thus, we must select proper fitting footwear to prevent chronic back pain.

  1. SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE OR YOUR BACK, AVOID SLEEPING ON THE STOMACH AS IT PUTS LOTS OF PRESSURE ON OUR SPINE
  2. WHILE STANDING ALWAYS DISTRIBUTE YOUR WEIGHT EQUALLY ON BOTH FEET.

REFERENCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7141322/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2910660/

https://www.dovepress.com/mechanical-factors-and-vitamin-d-deficiency-in-schoolchildren-   with-low-peer-reviewed-article-JPR

http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2019/fall/7219-vitamin-d.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5081254/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2899838/

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/14/2/183

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