4 steps to a less painful day
Age isn’t the only reason to explain a troublesome knee or back – fix these mistakes to reduce the daily aches
Back pains, neck pains, muscle pains. Aches are generally just a pain. And for the average American who is always on the go, the wear and tear you put your body through can lead to discomfort all over. It’s no longer major injuries that stress the body, but everyday actions. According to Dr. Michael Silbert at the Chicago Wellness Center, more common today is micro trauma – repetitive strain injuries or RSI.
“If you look at the body it hasn’t really changed much in about 150,000 years,” Silbert says. “We come from hunter-gatherers and in a hunter-gatherer society you’re following migrating herds, you’re not sitting on the phone or doing the same thing over and over again with a mouse.” To avoid the stress a modern world can put your body through check out these five daily activities below, how they harm your body and how to relieve them:
Carrying a child on your shoulders
Depending on your age or fitness level, your neck and shoulders can only carry so much weight, Silbert says. “If they want to put their kid on their shoulders to watch a parade for a couple of minutes that’s not a big deal,” he says. “But if they have neck problems the weight of the body, depending on the weight of the child, is going to put a tremendous amount of strain on the neck and it’s not designed to carry that.” Instead, carry your child piggy-back style. Throw him on your back so that his legs wrap around your hips.
We’ve heard about the dangers of high heels, but zero-support shoes are just as bad.
If the body were a house, our feet would be the foundation, tasked with providing us with as much support as possible. Unfortunately, flip flops can’t bear much. “What happens is something in the body called a kinetic chain, anything that is out of balance in the foot will move up into the neck,” Silbert says. For flat-footed people in particular, the lack of arch flip-flops provide will eventually cause strain in the neck and even the jaw. Silbert recommends flip flops with an artificial arch. If you think you might need arches take a look at an old pair of dress shoes. “If the outer portion of the heel is worn more than the inner portion we’d call that lateral heel wear,” he says. “The arches are dropping so the person’s knees are hitting together and to prevent that from happening you toe out, inadvertently dragging the lateral portion of the heel and wearing it out before the other part.” Try using some insoles that provide more of an arch to avoid pains in your feet and upward.
Sleeping with too many pillows or the wrong pillow
“When you are staring at a computer screen or are on the phone all day it makes sense to take care of your neck when you sleep,” Silbert says. To do so find a pillow that helps you create a neck curve as close to normal as possible – a C-shape in between 35-45 degrees. “Too many pillows force the chin to the chest and flattens out the curve of the neck,” Silbert says. “And memory foam pillows don’t support the neck.” He recommends pillows manufactured by Foot Levelers. They provide a little valley to hold the head, which supports the lower curve of the neck. “Anything that distorts the normal C-shaped curve of the neck can cause problems,” he says.
A Long Commute
For many people with a long commute they can’t avoid, sleeping on the train is a good way to unwind, but it’s not always great for your neck. Silbert recommends using a horseshoe shaped buckwheat pillow. For longer commutes, make sure to get up and walk around periodically to avoid tension in the legs. “Also, using headphones to listen to relaxing music or breathing exercises would be helpful to decompress,” he says.
To further avoid RSI with daily activities, try out some strengthening protocols. Muscle imbalance is often a cause of RSI, as the muscles work in opposition to one another, RSI often causes one muscle to work more than another. “You see some of these body builders who do extensive work on their pecs, and their shoulders roll forward because they’ve ignored the back muscles,” Silbert says. “What eventually happens is the muscles have an imbalance and you cause strain and wear.” A regimented exercise routine can help work out all your muscles to avoid any imbalances or strain. Daily stretching or occasional yoga classes are other great strengthening protocols. But if your body lacks any relief from a home remedy, consult a doctor. If you’re not releasing the tension, you may need a consultation to identify the correct area and cause of pain.
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