How a Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Your Health
From an evolutionary (and survival) standpoint, the invention of technology took us very quickly from an active “moving” species to a population that sits an average of 13 hours per day. Add sleeping hours to that and it leaves very few hours, or even minutes, to be active. Inactivity is making us chronically sick and putting a huge burden on our health care system. It’s unfortunately a very sad reality of the world today.
Do Posture Braces Work? The Pros, Cons and Three Alternatives to Consider
Do posture braces work? The scientific evidence seems to be up in the air, but these pros, cons and alternatives might help you decide what's best for you.
The Ultimate Guide to Back Pain Prevention
Back pain is a very common problem. It has been well established that it's a leading cause of job related disability in the U.S. This ambiguous topic involves many theories surrounding the best treatment. Quite frankly, it can leave your head spinning! Whether you have experienced back pain before and want to prevent it from happening ever again, or just want to avoid it all together, here is a full comprehensive list of what you can start doing now to prevent back pain while also improving your overall quality of life (bonus!).
Is Your Child's Backpack Too Heavy? Proper Spine Care for the Younger Generation
Back pain isn't something only older adults need to worry about. Children can suffer from it too. The biggest contributor? A child's backpack weight.
Numbness in Hands – Causes and Solutions
Ever get numbness or tingling in your hands or fingers? You’re not alone—it’s a common issue that can range from momentary and minor to recurring and severe. It can stem from a variety of underlying issues and can indicate bigger problems developing. So how can you figure out what’s causing your hand numbness, and what can you do about it?
How To Breathe Better For Pain and Stress Relief
What if there were a simple, free way to reduce your levels of stress, anxiety, and physical pain while improving your health, your productivity, and even your relationships? Well, if you’re breathing right now (and if not, please start), you have just such an amazing tool at your disposal. But to get the benefits, you need to know how to use it...
7 Simple Exercises You Can Do at Work for Back Health
Today, it’s common knowledge that exercise is crucial to a healthy balanced life. Choosing exercise that promotes muscle balance (strength, flexibility and coordination) can prevent a whole slew of joint issues.
How to Use the Alexander Technique for Back Pain Relief
The Alexander Technique is one of the best approaches for relieving back pain you’ve never heard of. For over 100 years, performers, athletes, and others have used it to alleviate tension, overcome injuries, and operate at their best.
How to Prevent and Alleviate Lower Back Pain While Driving
Everyone has a different reaction to the prospect of a long drive in the car. Little kids might whine and complain—or beg to watch a movie during the journey. Some people love road trips and would happily sign up for a 10-hour drive. But to others, a long drive sounds like a sentence to sit in excruciating pain while trapped in a moving vehicle. If you can relate, keep reading to find tips for how to prevent and alleviate back pain while driving.
Spine 101: Anatomy and How It Affects Your Health
There is a reason for the saying “he has no backbone.” Without our spines, we would be very limited as human beings with no core strength or coordination to help us eloquently use our limbs to read, write, dance, run and enjoy life. Knowing some of the spine’s complex anatomy can help us appreciate the importance of back health and why it is one of the keys to a healthy and happy life.
Each joint in the body has a unique combination of stability and mobility to optimize human performance and health. This combination varies slightly in the spine with each level (7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar and 5 fused sacral vertebrate) of the spine, depending on whether its function is more related to movement or support. In general the neck is designed for movement, the mid-back for protection of the organs with the help of the ribs and the low back for bearing weight while providing strength for movement.
The Bones and Ligaments
Each vertebrae in the spine has the same general shape. There is the main “body” that gives each bone its strength in front of a large opening for the spinal cord. There are then three “processes” that stick out from each side and the back. These are connection sites for many of the major ligaments and muscles in the body. The dense network of ligaments and muscles around the spine add to the intricate layers of support and strength that help with overall back health. The only exceptions to this general shape are the top two cervical vertebrae that are made specifically to be able to rotate our heads, making them resemble more of a ring that rotates around a bottom post.
There are several different major points of articulation in the spine. Between each vertebrae is an intervertebral disc that provides cushion and shock absorption for the spine while allowing some movement. The vertebrae then stack and “l
Back Benefits from a Standing Desk - and 5 Tips for Making the Switch
A very common ailment of office workers is back pain. Sitting at a desk all day at work puts unnecessary pressure on your spine and can lead to discomfort and injury. But trading in your traditional workstation for an adjustable standing desk can reduce that pressure and help to increase the health of your spine. Read on to find out why your back can’t stand all that sitting.
Sit or Stand – How Does Position Impact Your Spine?
Sitting for extended periods has been shown to shorten and harden abdominal and hamstring muscles. At first glance this change might not seem related to the spine, but the imbalance that it causes impinges on the rest of the body’s core, reducing spine alignment and muscle symmetry. Standing helps strengthen muscles in the core and legs – essential to general strength and to preventing spinal injury.
Slouching is also much more common while sitting, and dipping your head toward the computer screen can cause neck and back pain and eventually impact your spine’s curvature. Performing repetitive tasks, particularly while seated, puts stress on muscles and joints and increases the risk of back and neck injury such as spine misalignment, pinched nerves and degenerative discs.
One advantage of an adjustable desk – whether used for sitting or standing – is the ability to customize its height and provide an ergonomic advantage for your body, promoting good pos
Swimming is the Secret to Lifetime Spine Health
You might have heard swimming described as a “lifetime fitness activity,” but do you know what that means? Swimming earned its reputation as being a lifelong sport because it is a whole-body aerobic workout that can be performed by people of all ages.
What You Don't Know About Spine Health
When you think about staying healthy, what behaviors come to mind? If you’re like most people, your thoughts immediately gravitate to things like eating well, exercising, skincare, and drinking enough water—all things that have visible outward effects. If you eat well and exercise, you’ll maintain a healthy weight. If you drink plenty of water and follow a skincare routine, you’ll have clear skin. We tend to give far less thought to our internal wellness, such as our skeletal structure. Yet bone health—particularly spine health—is crucial to our overall well-being.
If you’re an able-bodied, mobile, and relatively healthy adult, you probably give very little thought to your spine on a day-to-day basis. That’s not unusual—most of us take our spine for granted. But we shouldn’t. Our spine is, in a very real sense, the load-bearing support beam for our body. It holds us upright and allows us to stand and move. Without our spine, we would be immobile and inflexible. Our lives—and our species!—would be completely different.
Why Does Spine Health Matter?
Spine health is connected to the well-being of many different internal organs, systems, and processes. Spinal injuries can have devastating consequences, such as paralysis or even death. The spine is also part of our central nervous system; damage to any part of that system can wreak havoc on the rest of the body.
“A healthy spine is an often overlooked and essential part of a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Jeremy Hayes, D.C. Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Flossmoor. “Every day, millions of Americans suffer from misalignments in their spine that if left untreated, can lead to pain, health challenges and disease.”
Spine misalignments have be
Should I Get a New Pillow and Mattress? Let me sleep on it…
Would you be comfortable sleeping on a sheet of ¾” plywood? Absolutely not, because it would create innumerable pressure points on your skull, elbows, shoulder blades, hips, and heels. It would be nearly impossible to find a comfortable way to lie down and sleep on such a hard, flat, unforgiving surface.
Contrariwise, it can be a painful experience to sleep in a hammock. Oh, it’s certainly more comfortable, but it makes us into an elongated curve. That’s fine for our shoulders and back, but our knees only bend in the opposite direction, and it can hyperextend our necks, so you can wake up with achy legs, and even a headache. Blood flows to your lowest point, your buttocks, decreasing the amount to your brain and feet, too, making the situation worse.
Humans need a relatively level surface upon which to sleep. Even rough ground with the proper rises and depressions makes a good sleeping surface, as our evolutionary ancestors knew well, provided it fitted our body contours.
A bag of straw (or nowadays, raw cotton fiber) makes a futon, one of the earliest mattresses. It has lots of give, conforms to our shape, and even helps prevent excess sweating to increase comfort.
The disadvantage is that it compresses over time, and no amount of “fluffing” will fix it. It needs to be unstitched, emptied and refilled with new material, or replaced entirely.
The modern mattress was placed in a wooden frame bed, and served for many years that way. Steel spring fames replaced that, giving the mattress more flex, allowing more air circulation, extending its life, and making it more comfortable.
Bedframes became passé, when we invented a spring system permanently mounted inside a box frame that perfectly matched the mattress. The box spring set still provided the flex, but added resilience that kept the center from sagging. It was a success and considered the height of luxury.
How to Make Sure Your Desk Job Isn't a Pain in The Neck
Neck pain is one of the most common physical complaints among adults around the world, and it is an even worse problem among people who work office jobs that require them to use a computer for most of the day.
Back Pain can be Almost Unbearable... unless you smoke…then it gets worse…
Less than 20% of the population still smokes but proportionately more of those folks (or recent quitters) have more back problems than non-smokers. It seems important to find out why.
The Painful Relationship Between Obesity and Back Problems
While lower back pain is one of the most common disabilities worldwide, the underlying cause behind back pain is not always cut and dry. Lower back pain is rarely caused by a serious medical condition. It is far more common for back pain to be the result of lifestyle factors, such as activity level, posture, and age. Another factor that’s gaining attention as obesity rates rise around the world is the connection between back pain and weight gain.
Many people who are overweight or obese and experience back pain don’t realize that their excess weight may be causing their back pain. Yet there is a clear relationship between body mass index (BMI) and back pain.
One study found that people at a normal weight had the lowest risk for back pain, while people who are obese had the highest risk for back pain and were the most likely to require medical intervention. Another study conducted in 2017 by University of Tokyo Hospital in Japan reviewed medical data for 1,152 men between 1986 and 2009. The researchers found that a person’s BMI directly correlated to their rate of back problems.
Back Pain and Obesity: What’s the Connection?
While there is general consensus that a connection exists between back pain and obesity, researchers disagree about the causal relationship. Some believe the cause-and-effect is simple: extra weight pushes the pelvis forward, which places more strain on the lower back.
Other researchers believe that explanation is too simplistic, and doesn’t account for differences between people, even those of similar age, weight, an
Protect Your Spine by Optimizing Your Sleeping Position
You can do everything within your power to protect your spine during the day—sit and stand with proper posture, alternate between sitting and standing at your desk, using correct form when lifting weights, and use a backpack instead of a shoulder bag—but your unconscious hours can undo a lot of your hard work. That’s right—your sleeping position at night can have a huge impact on your overall spinal health.
There’s much discussion online about how to get more sleep or to get better, more restful sleep. But you don’t hear as much about how the position you sleep in affects your health, even though a poor sleeping position can cause everything from heartburn to wrinkles—and, of course, neck and back pain. Ever woken up with a stiff neck or a sore back? You can blame your sleeping position.
The position you sleep in at night plays a big role in your spine and neck health. Some positions can help prevent you from developing back problems, while others can help increase comfort if you already suffer from chronic back pain. In fact, according to the Global Burden of Disease study, the most common cause of back pain isn’t serious medical conditions—it’s lifestyle factors, such as awkward sleeping positions!
Read on to learn which sleeping positions are the best for your back—and which are the worst.
GOOD: Sleeping on Your Side With a Pillow
If you sleep on your side already, you can count yourself in good company. The vast majority of people report sleeping on their side. With the weight of popular opinion behind this option, it may come as no surprise that it’s good for your back.
Positioning a pillow between your legs helps to align your spine, hips, and pelv
Carpal Tunnel and You: What Gamers Need to Know
Hey, gamers! Press pause for a second. We need to have a talk about something that none of us really want to talk about: Carpal tunnel syndrome.
That’s right. The wrist thing.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) all comes down to one nerve in your wrist -- the median nerve, which controls movement and feeling in your thumb and movement in every finger except your pinky. The median nerve runs the full length of the arm, but the part where it passes through the wrist is called the carpal tunnel. When you make repetitive motions with your fingers and wrist, the carpal tunnel can swell.
There’s a lot of buzz around carpal tunnel, especially for gamers, creative types, and workaholics who spend their workdays behind a computer desk studying spreadsheets. (Are our lives really so different?)
Now that you know what carpal tunnel is, here’s a quick walkthrough to help you prevent it.
Study the Art of the Grip
We’ve all been there: You’re deadlocked in a showdown with a dragon in the middle of a six-hour Skyrim session and you haven’t even touched your drink. It happens. We all get sucked in, especially if it’s a good game and we’re having a good time.
Between those action-packed moments, though, when the loading screen pops up or a cinematic takes control out of your hands, take a moment to study the art of the grip. Ease up on the controls a moment, relax your fingers, and do a few wrist exercises.
Remember, swelling in the carpal tunnel is a primary cause for CTS, so do yourself a favor and give your hands and wrists a chance to relax for a minute or two. Thumb through the menu, sort your inventory, or -- if you’re
These Bad Habits Might Be Causing Your Back Pain
We all experience back pain sometimes. In fact, an estimated 31 million Americans experience back pain on any given day, and a whopping 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life. While some cases of back pain are caused by serious underlying medical conditions, the majority are simply caused by lifestyle factors. That’s right – there may be things you do every day without even thinking about it that are causing your back pain.
If your back pain is caused by lifestyle factors, that’s actually good news. That means you can heal your back pain on your own, without going to the doctor, just by making some changes to your daily routine and adopting some healthy new habits.
When it comes to lifestyle factors that cause back pain, there are a handful of common culprits. These are the three worst offenders:
- Lugging around heavy purses and briefcases
- Wearing uncomfortable shoes with little to no arch support
- Sitting all day long at your desk at work
Any of those behaviors sound familiar? If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably guilty of all three. So let’s explore how you can change the lifestyle factors causing your back pain to find relief from serious back pain – both now and in the future.
Use a backpack.
The trend of giant, oversized bags started a few years ago and has no signs of slowing down. The downside is that if you make a bag bigger, we’ll find a way to fill it. So as bags get bigger, they also get heavier. Add to that the fact that more and more employees are issued company laptops that they lug from work to home and back again, and you get millions of Americans carrying around ridiculously heavy bags that weren’t designed for comfort. Men, don’t think you’re exempt – briefcases and messenger bags are just as ba
To Overcome Your Back Pain, You Need to Understand It
Do you experience chronic or periodic back pain? If so, you’re not alone: over 80% of Americans will experience some form of back pain during their lives, and 31 million are suffering from back pain at any given time. In fact, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and one of the most common reasons for missing work. That’s not surprising when you consider that half of all working Americans will experience back pain every year.
So what’s causing this epidemic of back pain, and what can we do about it?
Causes of Back Pain
The spine is one of the most complex and interconnected anatomical structures in the human body, and because it is subject to so many daily stressors, it is also one of the most prone to injury. It is often difficult to locate the origin of back pain because it is made up of so many different bones, vertebrae, joints, ligaments, nerves, discs, and muscles – any one of which could be causing or exacerbating the pain. The overlap between these different anatomical structures also makes it hard for your brain to differentiate one from another to locate the origin of the pain.
Some of the most common causes of back pain include:
- Muscle or ligament strain/sprain
- Spinal nerve compression
- Lumbar herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Compression fracture
However, most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic in origin, meaning that they are not caused by a serious underlying medical condition. If you’re experiencing back pain, you migh
5 Effective Treatments for Lower Back Pain
What would you guess is the most common reason for missing work is among Americans? The flu? The common cold? Those are up there, but in fact, back pain is one of the most common reasons given for missed work. It’s also the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, following upper-respiratory infections.
If that number seems high, so will this one: over 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point during their lifetime. And that number is rising. Since 1998, the percentage of Americans who report experiencing back pain in the last three months has risen from 29.5% to 33.7%, and 30% of those say it impacted their ability to work. Americans spend $50 billion every year on treating back pain, and $100 million in indirect costs – such as lost wages and productivity.
The culprit behind back pain isn’t hard to identify. Most cases of back pain are non-organic, meaning they aren’t caused by serious medical conditions such as inflammatory arthritis, fracture, or cancer. Here’s a hint: Of those who experience lower back pain, 54% report spending the majority of their workday seated. The primary culprit of our growing back problem is our sedentary lifestyle.
If you’re one of the 33.7% of Americans who have experienced back pain within the past three months, we have some tips for how to cope with or even eliminate the pain. Try these 5 effective treatments for lower back pain.
Bad Posture Leads to Back and Neck Pain
Do you suffer from back or neck pain? If so, you are not alone. University of Carolina researchers found that 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain in their lifetime with losses of over $100 billion a year stemming from decreased worker efficiency and healthcare costs. Back pain appears to be on the rise, especially with the advent of technology. Children grow up hunched over phones and tablets playing games only to grow up finding themselves hunched over their keyboard at work. According to the European Journal of Pain, there is a correlation between age and back pain, with a 13% increase in chances of death for those with chronic back pain in later life.
Posture Pump states that most back and neck pain is attributed to poor posture. Since the neck and spine are connected, a problem in one area can lead to problems in the other. When you are slumped over your computer you are putting a lot of pressure on the muscles in your neck and back leading to aches and pains. Spine Health confirms that this long exposure to poor posture puts unneeded stress on one’s joints, muscles, and spine leading to further pain.
The importance of good posture is clear for our health and well-being. What is the ideal posture then? The Cleveland Clinic states that one should sit
Using a Sit-Stand Desk to Alleviate Neck Pain
As we age, it is common to experience an increase in aches and pains, especially in our back and neck. Nearly 25% of men experience cervical (neck) pain with radiation to the arm by age 45. However, certain jobs, working conditions, or workplace habits can exacerbate these problems or even cause them to start happening earlier than they would otherwise. The good news is that with changes in lifestyle and workstation equipment, these symptoms can improve and even go away completely.
For example, a naval officer presented with severe cervical myelopathy. Cervical myelopathy is a condition caused by the compression of the spinal cord in the neck. It causes symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness in the neck or arms, and problems with coordination, though not all patients experience the same symptoms and some may not even experience much pain. Cervical myelopathy is normally treated with a movement-restricting collar, physical therapy, pain medication, or, in the most severe cases, surgery.
After the naval officer was diagnosed with cervical myelopathy, he purchased a sit-stand desktop workstation from FlexiSpot. The default workstation setup is a traditional desk and office chair, at which the employee sits for 8+ hours a day. Sitting with poor posture can compress and contort the spine, leading to complications such as cervical myelopathy.
Switching to a sit-stand desk allows you to spend at least part of the day standing up, which is what our bodies were designed to do. The key is to stand with correct posture and to use an anti-fatigue mat, which alleviates some of the stress placed on your joints by providin
Using Proper Lifting Technique to Avoid Back Injury
Back pain is a complex condition that continues to pose a significant health burden on individuals, employers, and society as a whole, despite a range of interventions that have been developed to reduce its impact. In fact, it has been estimated that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point during their lifetime, and up to one thirdof the population suffers from some type of back discomfort at any given time. Not only does back pain interfere with daily routines, recreational activities, and work productivity, it’s also one of the most common reasons that people seek medical attention.
Causes of Back Pain
While some cases of back pain develop gradually over time due to issues such as poor posture, repetitive strain, or uncomfortable working positions, many cases develop after a specific incident, such as bending or lifting awkwardly, or lifting a heavy weight. Therefore, one of the best ways to prevent back injury is to use proper lifting technique, especially when lifting heavy objects.
Proper Lifting Technique
Many people believe that they know how to lift correctly, and are surprised when they suffer a back injury when performing a simple lift. It’s therefore important to review proper lifting techniques from time to time to avoid injury. To begin, before you attempt a lift, you should check your surroundings to ensure that it’s safe to begin your lift. There should be a clear path for you to carry the object, and make sure that you know exactly where you are going to put the object down. Additionally, avoid walking on uneven or slippery surfaces when you are lifting or carrying an object as this only increases yo
Improving Posture for Spine Health
Most of us will suffer an episode of back pain at some point in our lives – according to the American Chiropractic Association31 million Americans suffer from lower back pain at any given time. Repetitive activities at home or at work, such as sitting at a computer all day, as well as carrying and lifting improperly, can lead to muscle tension and tightness, and ultimately result in back pain. Luckily there are many things we can do to help improve our spine health including maintaining good general fitness and a healthy weight, as well as paying attention to our posture throughout the day.
How to Self-Assess Core Strength
The phrase “core strength” has become very trendy today. There is talk of the importance of it, but what exactly does it mean to have a strong core? Literally speaking, a core is the central part of an object that is crucial to its very existence. This couldn’t be truer for the core of the human body.
Why an MRI is Unnecessary for Low Back Pain
With statistics showing that low back pain affects approximately 80% of the population at least once in their life, chances are you have had low back pain or know someone who has experienced it. Despite a large amount of research and information out there related to low back pain, treatment can be ambiguous. When dealing with your spine health, it is important to know the facts so you can make an educated decision for treatment.
Adult Scoliosis: Overcoming Pain and Keeping Your Spine Healthy
Left unchecked, scoliosis can get worse over time, but with a little care, you can beat the pain and fatigue and maintain a strong, healthy spine throughout your life. Read this article for some great ways to give your spine some love, reduce symptoms, and maintain your mobility.
Trackpad vs Mouse: Which is Better for Your Wrist?
Millions of people point and click all day at work, and many of them suffer from hand and wrist pain, strains, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Choosing the right pointing device and using it correctly can help you avoid these issues and keep your creativity and productivity flowing.
Stress and Back Pain: 8 Ways to Get Relief for Both
Most people think of back pain as a physical issue, but stress and negative emotions often contribute. If you’re stuck with ongoing discomfort, or even disability, knowing how to address the emotional side of pain can help you change the situation.
Pain sufferers often overlook or avoid emotional contributors to pain because of pressure to perform, shame about emotional challenges, and a lack of support for developing emotional health.
Thankfully, the situation is changing. Groundbreaking work by physicians like Dr. John Sarno has shed light on the connection between emotion and pain and provided relief to thousands.
The growing popularity of emotional intelligence and mindfulness practices has also been shifting attitudes toward emotions, and new scientific findings are providing physical proof of the mind-body connection.
Solutions for Reducing Stress and Relieving Pain
So let’s look at a few simple ways to get started taking some of the emotional weight off your back.
1. The TMS Approach
In his bestselling book Healing Back Pain, Dr. Sarno described a new diagnosis for chronic pain, which he termed Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS) and a simple approach to resolve it.
He believed that ongoing emotional stress, especially unconscious anger, causes the body to tighten, which prevents your muscles from getting enough oxygen. When that happens, you get pain.
He found over many decades working with thousands of patients that simply by understanding their condition as emotional, they often got better.
The Correlation Between Neck Posture and Tension Headaches
Many employees would say that their jobs can be a pain in the neck. This may be a figure of speech, but it can be a reality when so much time is spent sitting in an office with less than ideal posture. So what happens when our daily posture causes pain, particularly tension headaches?