As a chiropractor who has treated thousands of patients since 1996, I have found that certain suggestions I have shared with my patients have stood the test of time.
Here are some simple pointers and explanations that may help you reduce muscle spasm, neck, shoulder and low back pain and possibly prevent structural problems in the cervical (neck), lumbar(low back) and pelvic regions of your spine as you mature.
DON’T: Sleep on your stomach.
(Sleeping in this position causes torque and tension in the upper portion of your spine, mainly because your head is turned to one side or the other for extended periods. The muscles in your neck work hard to keep your head level on your shoulders and your eyes parallel to the horizon.)
DO: Try to sleep lying on your back as often as possible.
(If you sleep on your side, switch sides frequently during the night and try putting a pillow between your knees for added support.)
DON”T: Sleep with a flat pillow that offers no support to your cervical spine
DO: Find a pillow that structurally supports the natural curve of your neck
(There are three natural curves in the spine that increase its strength and flexibility: the cervical curve in the neck, the thoracic curve in the mid back, and the lower back or lumbar curve. Sleeping on a pillow that does not properly support your neck or causes it to tilt forward can gradually decrease the angle of the cervical curve and result in neck or back pain, headaches, and fatigue.)
There are a multitude of different types of cervical or neck pillows available on the market today. If you are like many people, you have tried at least a couple of different types, and hopefully found one that you are comfortable with.
DON’T: Sit at a computer or desk for extended periods without getting up and moving around or stretching.
DO: Position the computer monitor directly in front of you and as close to eye level as possible.
(Turning your head to one side to look at a monitor even a few degrees can have detrimental effects on your spine over time.)
DON’T: Stretch your neck using quick, jerky motions.
DO: Stretch slowly and gently, holding each stretch for a minimum of six seconds. Stretch often (preferably in the morning and also in the evening).
DON’T: Lock out your knee joints when bending forward, stretching, or exercising.
DO: Perform your lower back stretches on a consistent basis, even when you are pain free.
Regular stretching increases range of motion and prevents problems in the future.
DON’T: Sit with a wallet in your back pocket.
A thick wallet acts as a wedge, twisting the pelvis, often resulting in pain and dysfunction over time. Muscle responds to pressure by contracting. A wallet on one side of the buttocks creates muscular contraction, thus throwing the pelvis off balance
DO: Get up from your desk and move around as often as possible at work.
Also when driving on long trips, get out of the car, walk around, and stretch whenever you have the opportunity.
DON’T: Keep your feet planted when lifting and moving objects from one area to another.
DO: Use your legs when lifting.
Position the object you are lifting as close to your body as possible without leaning forward. Take small steps rather than twisting your torso when transferring objects from one area to another.
DON’T: Cross your legs for extended periods.
Not only does this position decrease blood flow to the lower extremities, but it also can cause imbalance in the pelvis.
DO: Traction your lower spine by letting your legs hang down while in the deep end of a pool, using a noodle or raft to support your upper body.
Furthermore, as you use your muscular and skeletal systems to fight gravity through your demanding, but productive day, remember that all finely tuned machines need lubrication. It is important to drink water throughout the day to keep your magnificent machine gliding through all your daily activities.
Submitted by Dr. Jeffrey A. Sklar, Chiropractor Triune Chiropractic Counseling and Wellness, LLC