Updated: Jul 30, 2020
We all have a unique posture which defines our personality and is developed due to various factors like demographic features, occupation, lifestyle etc. Spine, which is everything from our neck up to the tailbone is known to be the most complicated to diagnose and treat in the world of physical therapy. This blog is an attempt to spread more awareness about spinal health but in case of back pain visit your Physical therapist for treatment!
Myth: I have some pain in my back, but it will go away on its own!
Nope, it doesn’t go anywhere! Body has an alarm system in our body called PAIN. It indicates damage. It could be tissue or joint damage due to stresses on them which eventually leads to inflammation and hence, pain. Our body has pain as a medium to tell us that we need to back off and address it!! Sooner it is addressed better the prognosis for rehabilitation.
Myth: sitting is bad for me, I should stand all day instead
This is a popular myth these days, especially in the world of technology which demands a lot of sitting and looking down into the screens for work and entertainment. Yes, prolonged sitting has bad effects on the spine and so does prolonged standing!! The main idea is to avoid sustained stresses in loading position. Hence, its best to keep SWITCHING positions from sitting-standing-walking, repeat. Try to avoid sitting for more than 30 mins and standing more than 1 hour. That way, you will learn to manage the load on your spine and switch just before it starts to hurt.
Myth: I should sit with my back extremely straight
This is not entirely a myth, but it is an incomplete information. Sitting straight needs more detailed definition. Attaining a military posture can be as bad as sitting in a slouched posture. Evidence states that core is maximally activated in a NEUTRAL position of a spine. Easiest way to practice that is to slouch completely then arch your spine completely and then let go a little to find the middle. Reset your spine every 30 mins in sitting and let core do the rest!
Myth: I lifted the box with my hands, that’s nothing to do with my back
Fun Fact: everything we do affects our spine. Our spine is the control center of our body and so it is involved in activities which increase pressure like coughing, sneezing or laughing. Something as simple as breathing also involves spine for both mobility and muscle activation. Hence, when we lift anything, it adds up to the load of our body and acts as an additional task for the spine. Simple modifications like squatting to lift and/or lifting the load closer to our body helps in distributing load off the spine.
Myth: I should sit on a soft couch and sleep on a soft mattress with a soft pillow, its more relaxing and cozier.
Sure, it is! But it's double the work for your spine. When we sit or sleep on softer surfaces, our body (neck and back) sinks in and has no support through the night, when you are inactive. In fact, it has an additional job of protecting the spine from increased stresses. Using a firm (not hard) mattress and pillow helps the spine align better for prolong hours.
Myth: I should quickly get out of the bed and get my day started but that has nothing to do with my spine
Getting out of the bed needs special attention. Our busy lifestyle forces us to change positions quickly and start our day faster without paying attention to body movements. Most people tend to kick in the air or hold their legs to get out the bed. This puts a lot of stress on our spine since it has a job to hold the entire body weight against gravity. Log rolling is the best way to do it. Simple steps like rolling on either side, letting go legs first and then pushing with hands can be used to assist the spine to carry our body weight with the use of limbs.
It only needs a combination of awareness, will and mindfulness to change our habits and make our lifestyle better!
Don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions about spinal health, it will only help someone to manage their pain and live with a better neck/back. This blog will soon follow up with more tips and exercises for better neck and back care, wait for it!!