Give Your Neck, Back and Legs a Break

Research shows that sitting is the hardest activity on the back, other than lifting weight off the floor from a bent-over position.

Some physicians think that many of our modern day back troubles afflict us because we spend most of the day sitting.  Research shows that sitting is the hardest activity on the back, other than lifting weight off the floor from a bent-over position.

Sitting Better at Home

At home, firm wooden chairs are usually better than soft fabric chairs or couches. If you sink low, you can’t get out  without bending or twisting your neck and back. Some people are helped by recliner  chairs, some are not – the biggest problem is getting out. The best way to get out of any chair is to scoot your hips forward until you are on the edge of the chair, then stand up without bending your back and neck. Have a comfortable chair in each room that is designated as “yours.”

Pain Prevention at the Office

In the office, you need an adjustable chair if you spend more than an hour a day there – especially useful if more than one person uses the chair. When considering possible adjustments, here are some things to look for:

  • Height adjustment, so you can sit with both feet flat on the floor and no pressure areas on the thighs. Height adjustment also helps the chair remain low enough to go under the table, and minimizing the need to lean forward.
  • 5-6 rollers on the base to help the chair move and to prevent it from falling over.
  • Arm height adjustable to be able to fit under the desk and allow a person to rest their elbows without tilting their spine or pelvis.
  • Seat should tilt forward to use when under a desk, and tilt backward to reach other work areas.
  • Chair back should adjust so it contacts the spine. A built-in lumbar support is helpful, but unless it’s adjustable, it may cause discomfort. Better to buy an inflatable support to attach it to the chair.
  • Computer screen should be located so hands work in front of the screen and the neck is not rotated or tilted. Try not to work more than 30 minutes without changing position. Use a timer as needed. The strain that  occurs in the office at 2 p.m. may not hurt until 2 a.m. Timers are extremely helpful.
  • Consider a standing table. Or, as a low cost alternative, a cardboard  box works well to raise the work level high enough to stand while working. U-Haul sells a tough “File Storage Box” that is the right height and even has hand holds. A piece of smooth particle board, plywood or Formica added to the top of the box makes writing easier, but it is not necessary.
  • A pillow to support the neck in a high back chair is helpful.
  • If you spend a significant amount of time on the phone and have neck problems, try to use the speaker or a headset.

Don’t Let Neck and Back Pain Affect Your Home and Work Life – Get Quality Care

Many of the orthopedic conditions which we commonly face today can be addressed with nonsurgical treatment. For serious back and spine problems, seek quality orthopedic care.

Travel Comfortably to Prevent Neck and Back Pain

Don’t Let Neck and Back Pain Affect Your Ability to Travel

Riding in a vehicle is difficult due to bumps and turns. If you suffer from neck and back problems, getting in and out can be a painful experience. With so many types of vehicles – and so many different types of neck and back conditions affecting us – there is no one solution to riding comfortably.

Neck and Back Pain Prevention Tips for the Road

Generally, sport utility vehicles, vans and trucks sit up high and are easier to ride in than cars that are lower to the ground. Bigger vehicles have bigger doors and seats. This extra room makes it easier to transfer in and out.

The seats are important. For the neck and back, cloth tends to be more comfortable than leather. Automobile manufacturers make one seat to fit all shapes and sizes. With a little padding, you can make your seat fit you, instead of you fitting the seat. A lumbar support in the low back can be helpful if your car seat does not have this feature built-in. Most physical therapy centers sell foam “lumbar rolls.” A small rolled towel across the back at the waist level is another easy option for lumbar support.

Some seat bottoms sag and don’t give enough support; here, a small stack of newspapers under a towel can help. The newspaper firms the seat and the towel protects your clothes; also, the towel slides on the paper and makes it easier to transfer out of the vehicle. Headrests should be adjusted so the back of the head hits the rest in a rear collision, instead of the head going  over the top of the rest. A small pillow placed behind the neck or upper back will support the neck while driving and may lessen neck pain and headaches.  Become familiar with positioning the rear-view mirror and side-view mirrors. This one easy detail will lessen the amount of neck and back twisting needed to drive.

A manual transmission is harder to drive because of the clutch and gear shifter. A vehicle with automatic transmission is easier on the back and muscles.

45 Seconds Now to Save 45 minutes of Pain Later

When transferring in and out of a vehicle, remember to avoid twisting your back and neck –  keep them straight. If you have them, use electric controls to move the seat back and tilt the steering wheel up before exiting the vehicle. When getting into your vehicle, sit down first, and then bring both legs in together. Alternatively, go in head first, to keep the neck and back straight. Remember to move as a unit – neck, back and pelvis. Take your time; 45 seconds here may save 45 minutes of pain later.

Neck and Back Pain Prevention for Occasional and Frequent Flyers

Airplane seats are not usually well-padded. Use a blanket to sit on, and some kind of lumbar support. An inflatable neck pillow is helpful if you regularly try to sleep on airplanes. Exit rows and bulkhead seats often have enough room to allow a person to stand in front of the seat. Avoid carry-on luggage, as it usually requires a person to twist/ lift/ bend to store it, and there is usually not time or space in the aisle to use proper body mechanics.

If possible, don’t drive or fly for more than 45 to 60 minutes. Get out and stretch or walk around. Prevent further injury by using lap and seat belts.

Many of the orthopedic conditions which we commonly face today can be addressed with nonsurgical treatment. For serious back and spine problems, seek quality orthopedic care.  

You Deserve a Great, Pain-Free Night’s Sleep

Dallas Orthopedic Spine Specialist Dr. Craig C. Callewart discusses nighttime neck and back pain prevention.

Just as the mind needs a good night’s sleep to  work well the next day, muscles need sleep to recover from soreness. If you  sleep well, you will have less pain the next day. Your muscles will be less  sore and you’ll be mentally better able to deal with the pain.

Sleep Well for Less Pain

A comfortable mattress is key to reducing  overnight discomfort and maximizing the benefits of restful sleep. For most  people, this means a firm mattress – one without lumps or sags. If your  mattress is old, you may need to place a piece of plywood between your  mattress and box spring for added support. A built-in “pillowtop” mattress or  padded mattress top is comfortable to the hips and shoulders. A mattress  should be rotated every 6 months to prevent lumpiness. The height of the bed  should allow you to sit comfortably on the edge of the bed – better too high  than low.

A person needs most support from a mattress  across the chest and abdomen. Placing a folded bath towel under the mattress  sheet will provide additional support. Physical therapists and some stores  sell a sleeping roll that will also work.

Waterbed and Air Mattress Pain Prevention

If you choose to sleep on a waterbed, firmer is  better. One problem with waterbeds is that the edge may be too soft to allow  you to sit at a comfortable height, and hurt the back as you get in or out of  bed.

An adjustable air mattress bed is another  alternative that many people find helpful. One major advantage is that the  firmness of the mattress can be changed, depending on how much support “feels  right.”

How to Create an Orthopedic Pillow for Pain Prevention

Pillows need to be firm so they will not  flatten out or sag during the night. Down are the best because the shape of  the pillow can be easily changed. Pillows need to be thick when a person is  laying on their side, and half the thickness when on their back. There are  pillows which are thin in the center and one-third and thick on the end  one-thirds, and these work well for some people. To firm your pillow, try a  flatly folded towel in the pillowcase. Rolling a hand towel and placing it in  the pillow case along the edge will provide a support for the curve of the  neck and create an “orthopedic pillow.”

Perfect Your Pain-Free Sleep Positions

For back pain, the best position to sleep or  rest is on your side with a pillow between the bent knees, and one tucked  behind the back so you can roll back against the pillow. Alternatively, flat  on your back with a pillow under your knees will provide relief to the back  and legs. Avoid sleeping on your stomach which twists the back.

For neck pain, try sleeping without a pillow or with a special pillow. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

Injury Prevention Tips for Recliners and Adjustable Beds

Recliners can be helpful because they allow the  back and neck to go into a relaxed position. Unfortunately, some people hurt  themselves coming off the recliner. It is best to move slowly and the slide  the pelvis forward, and don’t use the arms to pull forward.

Adjustable beds help because lying completely flat in bed is hard on the hips and back. A simple way to elevate the feet  (or head) is to place a 4” thick book between the box springs and mattress at  the end of the bed.

Don’t Let Neck and Back Pain Affect the Quality of Your Sleep – Get  Quality Care

Many of the orthopedic conditions which we  commonly face today can be addressed with nonsurgical treatment. For serious  back and spine problems, seek quality orthopedic care.

8 Tips for Pain Prevention at the Computer

If you’re a frequent computer user, eyestrain, neck fatigue, back pain and Carpal Tunnel syndrome can greatly reduce your quality of life. The following helpful suggestions can make your workplace safer, more comfortable, and less stressful.

  1. Top of screen needs to be eye level (or lower, for bifocal wearers). Screen should be 15 to 32 inches away, with sharp, steady display.
  2. Display should be free from glare and reflection.
  3. Documents should be displayed close and level with the screen, and should be properly lit.
  4. Hold your wrists straight and horizontal using a padded wrist rest.
  5. Leave space for knee clearance under the desk.
  6. To ensure comfort, keep your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest.
  7. Your arms should be loose to the sides, with elbows at right angles.
  8. The lower back should be supported in the shape of its natural curve.

Avoid Eyestrain at the Computer

Adjust lighting level to reduce glare, set screen contrast, position screens at right angles to natural light source (windows) and parallel to overhead lighting. Rest your eyes by focusing on an object 20 feet away. Blink often. Be sure to advise your doctor that you work with a computer.

Proper Posture Makes a Big Difference

Good posture can be maintained with proper back support, head held erect, shoulders relaxed, wrists held straight and supported with wrist rest, and feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.

Sit Well, Reduce Stress

Having a chair that is adjustable four ways can reduce stress caused by sitting: height, back, seat and arms. Your chair should fit the lower back in a natural curve, have a seat with a rounded front edge, and swivels smoothly. Arm rests need to support the elbows.