As every new year rolls around, everyone plans on a better “me”. Resolutions are made, attempted, and for most, they are broken. But for those with chronic back pain, keeping a resolution can be harder than it is for most. Here are a few resolutions that are easy to keep and beneficial to your health and pain management.
- Make your bedroom electronic free
Several studies reveal that over 60% of people with back pain also have a sleeping disorder. Getting a good night’s rest is key to a healthy lifestyle and managing pain. These days most people are rarely seen without a smart phone in their hand – even in the bedroom. TVs, Netflix, laptops, tablets, and phones can all be an added distraction when its bedtime. Leave the electronics at the doorway to help lessen the distractions and help you have a better chance at getting a good night’s sleep.
Its recommended to form a routine leading up to crawling into bed like having a cup of warm tea, a hot shower, or turning on a fan or noise machine. Taking a natural, non-addictive sleep aid (e.g. melatonin or Valerian) can help if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep because of the pain.
- Set your clock every hour
And get up. That’s right – get up and stand for a few minutes at the minimum every hour. Research shows that just 66 fewer minutes sitting every day can reduce pain in the back and neck. Sitting can cause more pain than standing because when you sit the discs of your lower spine are compressed three times as much as when you are standing.
At work, stand and stretch, walk to the break room for a glass of water or coffee or talk a stroll on your lunch break.
At home, don’t immediately fall into the recliner. Walk the dog or do some stretching and bending exercises while watching television.
- Get a comfortable pair of shoes
Walking is a perfect low impact aerobic exercise that is proven to help reduce inflammation, strengthen muscles and promotes healing by delivering oxygen rich blood to the affected area. It is also a two-for-one resolution – exercise more and get in shape while managing your pain!
Keep in mind that if you take up walking on a regular basis, the wrong pair of shoes can contradict the benefits of walking. How we walk can put stress on our back and joints and a good pair of walking shoes can help counter this. Check out your local running shoe store as the staff is properly trained to identify your level of pronation (which is how your feet move and which side you favor as you walk). They can help you find the right shoe to balance out your stride and distribute your body weight evenly with each footstep.
Start your walking at a level that compliments your level of pain not complicates it. Try a few minutes, slowly increasing over time. If any step is too painful, try walking around the shallow end of a pool. The water will take away the weight off your spine while still allowing you to exercise.
- *For smokers
Research shows that chronic back pain is worse for smokers than it is for non-smokers. Try quitting today to help ease the pain you feel in your back or neck. What better reason to kick the habit and stick to the resolution many make but fail to keep.