Everyone has aches and pains, but here are some simple steps to prevent some small issues, that can become big pain generators if left uncorrected.
1. Sleep position.
The position in which you sleep can affect your health. Many of us slept on our stomachs as children and continued that trend into adulthood. We now know that sleeping on your stomach is harmful to your spine. The prone position does not offer support for the lumbar spine. Without support to your lumbar spine you can put increased pressure on the spinal muscles and ligaments which will cause you to wake up sore and increase your risk of injury. The best way to sleep to maintain spinal alignment is to lay on your back. This position not only allows for support of your lumbar spine, but also keeps your neck in a neutral position. The next best sleeping position is to lay on your side. However, if you prefer to sleep on your side, place a small pillow between your knees to prevent spinal rotation. Also, be sure that your head pillow is as thick as the distance between your neck and shoulder.
2. Workstation ergonomics/posture.
Most of us spend 8 or more hours a day at work. Most of that time is spent behind a computer screen. As we grow tired during the day we tend to slouch forward. This slouching forward is extremely harmful for your spine, ligaments, and nerves. That’s because our cervical spines are designed in a C shape. When we maintain posture outside of our natural C shape, our spines, ligaments, and nerves are put under extreme tension. Over time this tension can cause headaches, numbness, and tingling into our arms and hands, pain, and fatigue. So, sit up straight! Ideal workstation ergonomics would have your computer screen at eye level and your keyboard/mouse at the level of your wrists when seated fully erect. Proper posture when walking is leading with the chest, shoulders back, and eyes even with the horizon. And for those of us who are always tired in the afternoon, new research has shown that maintaining upright posture, can give you a boost of energy.
3. The back pocket.
For generations men have carried their wallets in their back pockets. And now that trend is moving to women as our smartphones have grown larger and need more space for storage. The problem with carrying personal items in your back pockets is sitting on them. When you sit on uneven surfaces, your lower back can become irritated and pain may result. This is because, in order for our spines to function as intended, they must be in proper alignment. Sitting on uneven surfaces puts increased pressure on one side of the spine and that causes the parts on that side of the spine to experience more wear and tear. So, men, if you are opposed to carrying a satchel daily, please pull your wallets out of your back pocket before sitting or carry your wallet in your front pocket. Women continue to carry personal items in your purse. And remember when it comes to purses, smaller is better.
Unfortunately, we will all have some aches and pains in life, but if we change a few of our daily habits, we can prevent some of these pains and increase our quality of life. Also, if you are currently experiencing neck pain, low back pain, or headaches, please give my office a call today. I would be honored to help you maintain a pain free life.
Dr. Reon Bailey