Nothing can suck the joy out of your day like chronic back pain. If you struggle with it, did you know that there are habits you’ve developed that may be making it worse?
All of us at Empire Physical Therapy and Athletic Rehabilitation work in partnership with you to not only provide advanced treatment virtually and in our office, but educate you about what you can do at home and at work to lower your chances of worsening your back pain.
Our physical therapists, Billy Reilly, MS, and Paul LaRosa, MS, treat people every day who grapple with back pain for a variety of reasons, from a herniated disc, sciatica, or a strained muscle to arthritis or a fall.
Throughout our years of working with patients, we have seen things our patients do constantly — and unwittingly — that compound their pain. The solutions are simple, but you have to be in troubleshooting mode to know what to watch for.
Sitting for hours at a time, as many of us do at work or binge-watching TV at home, is not a back-friendly practice. It puts lots of pressure on your discs and muscles.
Even if you’re not able to run a marathon, do gentle exercise every day, like walking if you can, swimming, or physical therapist-approved yoga poses.
At work or when you’re at home reading or watching TV, get up every hour and move around for a few minutes. If you favor sitting on an exercise ball at work, mix it up with sitting in a traditional office chair, so your back gets some support. And mind your posture.
Sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t offer proper support is a major culprit in intensifying back pain. Buy a mattress that’s firm yet pliable enough to support your various sleeping positions without straining your back or working against proper spinal alignment.
Replace your mattress about every eight years, but do so sooner if you see your mattress showing signs of wear-and-tear. And firmer doesn’t always mean better. Studies have shown that a medium-firm mattress is ideal for many.
Your lumbar spine, or lower back, has a big responsibility: It supports most of your weight, and an elaborate network of bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves work in concert to keep you mobile.
That’s why maintaining proper form when you move is critical to supporting, rather than straining, your back. When you bend or lift something heavy, lift with your legs, keep your stomach muscles tight, and hold the object close to you.
Being lax about what you eat can really cost your back. A poor diet increases inflammation, which is linked to back pain and doesn’t do your immune system any good.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, calcium-rich foods, and fish that contains healing omega-3 acids. Steer clear of highly processed foods, sugar, and anything high in saturated fats.
You might think smoking would have nothing to do with back pain, but you’d be wrong. Smoking is directly linked to spine degeneration because it impedes your blood and nutrient flow. It also slows healing, which definitely doesn’t help when you live with chronic back pain.
These are just some of the practices in your daily life that you can easily change to get your back on the road to recovery. When you’re mindful of how to treat your back with respect, it makes our treatments that much more effective.
We can work together not only to decrease or eliminate your pain, but to ensure that you know how to support your health when you’re living your life, day in and day out.
Schedule a consultation to have us analyze your back pain and to learn about preventive measures you can incorporate into your daily life.
Call our New York City office or request an appointment using our online booking tool. We’re located in Manhattan’s Midtown East near the Upper East Side.
Rest assured that we have reopened our office thoughtfully with regard to COVID-19 best practices. A plan is in place for any eventuality, and we’re available to answer all your questions. Your safety is our top priority.