8 Day-to-Day Activities That May Be Hurting Your Back
By Savanna Stone //
If you’ve ever wondered what causes your back pain, you’re in the right place.
Sure, maybe you have an idea of what causes it. It might be karma from all those “don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mom’s back” jokes you made as a kid. But more likely you know it’s from poor posture, muscle tension, or chronic problems like sciatica. And karma too.
But what is it that you do every day that contributes to those things?
Well, unfortunately for all of us, there are a lot of bad habits that cause back pain.
Here are just a few:
Sitting for too long. Sitting at your desk, on the couch, or even in the car can lead to back pain. You know that feeling when you get off the couch that you’ve lost all ability to move? You start to get up and your muscles say, “Nooooo! Sit back down.” But really, it’s not your muscles talking; it’s you. If your muscles could talk they would say, “Get up! Save me.” Because sitting in one place for too long makes muscles tense and sore. In fact, if your muscles could tell you things (we know they can’t, but just imagine they could) they would also tell you to get up at least once every hour to keep them alive and that sitting for too long causes tense muscles which leads to muscle knots which leads to a weird spine and back pain.
Doing the dishes. If you’ve always wanted a legitimate excuse not to do the dishes, it’s your lucky day. Just tell your family doing the dishes contributed to your back pain because you wouldn’t be lying, especially if it’s a big load of dishes and you’ll be hunched over the sink for hours scrubbing in that awkward position. You can probably already feel the phantom lower back pain now. But we know it’s likely that you won’t be able to get out of the dishes for life. So here’s a tip: just don’t hunch over the sink. Bring the dish up instead of leaning over the counter top. And try to engage your core while you’re scrubbing. We know it sounds weird, but it’s better for your back. Other chores where you have to hunch over fall into this category too, so you’re welcome.
Playing with kids and dogs. Playing with kids and dogs is great because they’re cute—except for one little detail—your back pain. Unfortunately both kids and dogs are short and often when you’re playing with them, you have to bend down or sit on the ground. Unless of course you have a Great Dane, then your back will hurt because even just the slightest bump from that massive dog will knock you down. When you’re playing with kids or animals, try getting down to their level by sitting on the floor or in a chair instead of hunching over to save you from back pain.
Sleeping on your stomach. Sorry if this is your favorite way to sleep, but it might be the reason you have back pain and probably neck pain too. When you sleep on your stomach, you have to turn your head to one side so that you can breathe right? Unless you’ve found the coolest pillow in the world or you sleep on a massage table, which doesn’t seem comfortable. Anyways, turning your head to the side like that for such a long period of time takes your spine out of alignment while you sleep and causes neck and back pain. Try sleeping on your side with a pillow that fully supports your head. Or try the best sleeping position for back pain—sleeping on your back. Check out this blog post for more ways to sleep without back pain. If you follow this advice, you might be able to say good night to back pain.
Looking down at your phone. The old, the young, and the in-between all spend a lot of time on their phones nowadays. It turns out that just the simple act of looking down at your phone can cause back pain and neck pain. It might not seem like a big deal while you’re doing it. But looking down for your phone, hunching over to brush your teeth, or leaning over your computer causes added pressure on your neck putting unwanted muscle strain on your neck, shoulders, and upper back. It’s the little things like this that will cause damage over time. Instead of looking down while doing these things, try to remember to maintain good posture. Bring your phone up to the level of your eyes, don’t lean over the sink to brush your teeth (Let a little toothpaste fall on your clothes. Wouldn’t you rather have a messy shirt than a bad back?), and create an ergonomic workspace. Doing these little things will make a big difference in the long run.
Smoking. Even if you smoke, you probably know it isn’t good for your lungs. But did you know it’s also risky for your spine? Smoking can lead to degenerative disc disease that develops in your neck (the cervical spine). Nicotine makes the blood vessels around the spinal disc constrict, preventing the discs from receiving nutrients and diminishing the development of new disc cells.
Exercise. Whether you don’t exercise enough (you know who you are) or you aren’t careful enough when you do exercise, you probably have back pain because of it. It’s recommended that you get at least thirty minutes of exercise a day because it’s great for your whole body, keeping your muscles strong, your cardiovascular system healthy, and your back happy. It's also so important that when doing any type of workout you protect your back by bending at the knees and maintaining the proper curvature of your spine. Along with regular exercise, you should stretch frequently to avoid muscle tension and joint pain. Simple stretching in the morning and at night can help reduce your back pain dramatically. That’s one reason the Chirp Wheels work so well; they stretch your back muscles and help reduce tension.
Eating certain foods. Yet another reason eating healthy will pay off in the long run . . . You might be sick of hearing reasons why you shouldn’t have dessert, but maybe you really shouldn’t anymore. Sugar causes joint inflammation, which could be a big reason you have back pain. Stick to the leafy greens, fruits (for your sugar craving), and whole grains. Your back will thank you and will end up supporting you better.