Blog posts tagged with 'lower back pain'

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DR. ZUMSTEIN APPEARS ON WGN MORNING NEWS- Tuesday, March 17, 2015

DR. ZUMSTEIN APPEARS ON WGN MORNING NEWS


WGN Morning News recently featured Dr. Josh Zumstein to discuss ways to prevent back and neck pain. During his most recent appearance on WGN Morning News, Dr. Zumstein talks about ways to prevent back and neck pain while you sleep and at work. He also reveals exercises that are proven to strengthen spine-stabilizing muscles. Dr. Zumstein’s appearance can be viewed here:

http://wgntv.com/2015/03/05/6-ways-to-a-pain-free-back/

AVOID FLEXION OF THE SPINE- Sunday, November 09, 2014

AVOID FLEXION OF THE SPINE

What is flexion of the spine? Flexion, also known as bending, occurs when you bend forward to pick up an object off the floor, tie our shoes, etc. The action of repeatedly fully bending the spine is a risk factor for low back disorders and causes disc herniations in the spine.  In addition, bending our spine for a prolonged period of time will damage the back. Note the “C-shaped” hump in the low back of FIGURE 1. This “C-shaped” hump indicates flexion of the spine and incorrect bending. Whenever you see this “C-shape” in the low back, you are bending incorrectly! 

It is best to avoid repeated and prolonged flexion of the spine. It is also important to understand that every time you bend forward, you must extend your back to get up again. This act of straightening your back after bending forward is called extension. Cycles of bending forward and coming back up cause low back problems. Flexion and extension can harm your back without lifting an object. It is simply the act of flexing and extending that is inherently bad.  Eliminating flexion of the spine is critical to protecting your back. 

FIGURE 1

BREAST CANCER PREVENTION- Sunday, October 12, 2014

BREAST CANCER PREVENTION

As most know, October is breast cancer awareness month. To help promote this cause, outlined for you are several tips to help you better understand some risk factors associated with breast cancer and the possible prevention of it.

  • 1. Perform regular self-exams for lumps, discoloration, or any other abnormalities. Not sure how to perform a self-exam? Ask your primary care physician, or try an online search. Simply relying on a mammogram may not be your best option. The United States Preventative Services Task Force, or USPSTF, found over a 25 year study that women aged 40-59, who received an annual mammogram, did not reduce their risk of mortality from breast cancer. Furthermore, 22% of invasive breast cancers were over-diagnosed when discovered with a mammogram.
  • 2. Stay Active. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Another study indicates you may have a 35% less likely chance of developing breast cancer if you exercise regularly.
  • 3. Eat Properly. Consuming red meat daily increases your likelihood of developing breast cancer by almost twice the amount. You don’t have to eliminate red meat completely, but try to resort to eating it maybe once or twice a week. However, if you eat 3-6 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, your risk of developing breast cancer is cut by 50%. Please note that one-third of the vegetables and fruits you consume should be raw. This statistic does not mean you can consume daily amounts of red meat because its damage will be offset by your 3-6 servings of fruits and veggies.
  • 4. Bra Usage. Believe it or not, women who wear their bra for more than 12 hours a day are 50% more likely to develop breast cancer. Let them breathe a little bit!
  • 5. Avoid Chlorine. Woman with high levels of chlorine in their bodies have a 10 times higher likelihood of developing breast cancer. That’s TEN TIMES more likely! What is the major source of chlorine? Drinking water. Most filters will eliminate chlorine from tap water, so be sure to drink properly filtered water.

These suggestions are not bulletproof and do not guarantee you immunity from breast cancer. However, these suggestions certainly won’t hurt your odds of developing the cancer, and can only help you. Prevention is key!

STRETCHING: WHEN TO DO IT, AND WHICH ARE BEST- Sunday, July 27, 2014

STRETCHING: WHEN TO DO IT, AND WHICH ARE BEST

            Admit it, you’ve probably asked yourself, “Am I doing the right stretch? Should I stretch right now?” And if you’re anything like me, you then went into the corner of the gym where you hoped no one would see you possibly embarrassing yourself stretching. There are two types of stretches: dynamic and static. This article will teach you the difference between both stretches and when one stretch is more appropriate to use than the other.

            A static stretch is the typical stretch people think of when they envision a stretch; you hold one muscle for 10-30 seconds hoping it will “loosen.”

Static stretch of the hamstrings

Statically stretching before you exercise is proven to decrease the efficiency of your workout by almost 10%. In other words, if you are about to perform lunges and you statically stretch your hamstrings (as shown above) prior to lunging, you will lunge approximately 10% less weight than if you had not done the static stretches. Of greater importance, statically stretching before an exercise may place you at greater risk of injuring that muscle, too. Therefore, the best thing to do before a workout is a dynamic stretch. A dynamic stretch is essentially a simulation of the exercise you’re about to perform.

Dynamic stretch of hamstring

If you’re about to run, great dynamic stretches to perform prior to running are body weight lunges, body weight squats, jumping jacks, kick-butts, or knee-highs. These dynamic stretches will engage your running muscles in a safe manner to allow for better performance. If you’re about perform an anaerobic exercise, like bicep curls, a dynamic warm-up stretch may be bicep curls with about 50% less weight than you plan to use during the exercise. Again, you want a simulation of the exercise you’re about to perform, but with less weight and intensity.

            Ok, so if a dynamic stretch is most appropriate before you workout, what should you perform after you workout? Post-workout is the time for a static stretch. After working out, your muscles are loose and susceptible to a greater range of motion. Therefore, you can increase the flexibility of your muscles if you perform the appropriate static stretches post-workout. If you performed lunges, or ran, an appropriate post-workout stretch is the hamstring static-stretch shown above.

Ribbon Cutting- Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thank you to everyone who attended our ribbon cutting ceremony. Many thanks to Mayor Hofeld for bringing the ribbon and the right-sized scissors neeeded to cut that ribbon! Everyone had a good time.

Back Safety & Wellnes Center is officially open! Come visit us at 18141 Dixie Hwy., Suite 107, Homewood, IL for all your chiropractic, acupuncture and back pain needs. Improve your quality of life now.

Yours in health,

The BSWC

CHICAGOLAND CLINIC OPENING!- Wednesday, May 21, 2014

CHICAGOLAND CLINIC OPENING!

The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants are pleased to announce that they are opening Back Safety & Wellness Center in Homewood, IL. Back Safety & Wellness Center will feature chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, nutrition, and of course, back safety education.

Each patient has the opportunity to learn Dr. Josh's secrets to preventing back and neck pain as part of their treatment plan. This presentation contains the same information that Dr. Josh uses during his presentations to businesses and goverment agencies, and as a patient, you can learn it for free!

Back Safety & Wellness Center is scheduled to open in early-mid June. Stay tuned!

ONE THING YOU DO EVERYDAY THAT’S KILLING YOU- Monday, April 07, 2014

ONE THING YOU DO EVERYDAY THAT’S KILLING YOU

I frequently discuss in my book and social media posts the dangers that sitting places on your spine. Excessive sitting is a known cause of low back disorders, particularly disc herniations, and a number of other undesirable problems. Sitting begins to harm your back after about 45-50 minutes of staying in the sustained sedentary position. However, additional research finds that sitting is hurting much more than just your spine; it’s affecting your morbidity.

In one study that looked at 93,000 women’s sitting habits, it was reported that women who sat for a total of 11 hours a day had a 12% increase in an early death from cardiovasucular disease. Additionally, this same study reported that increased sitting may result in up to a 27% increase in an early cancer death (1).

A different study found that people with a forward, flexed posture—which occurs during sitting—are linked to a 1.4 times greater risk of death compared to people that do not have forward posture (2). Poor posture hurts your spine, your overall health, and makes you look bad. Straighten up, people!

1. https://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/thing-day-may-cut-life-short-194100937.html

2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/10721014/Texting-for-long-periods-could-lower-life-expectancy.html?placement=CB3


THREE BACK PAIN MYTHS AND THE TRUTH BEHIND THEM- Friday, February 28, 2014

THREE BACK PAIN MYTHS AND THE TRUTH BEHIND THEM

  1. "I'm too young, and in too good of shape, to get back pain." Each time I speak to people about back pain, I get the same reaction. People aged 45 and older pay attention to what I say. The people aged 44 and younger couldn't care less. Why? Because most people believe that back pain only affects the elderly or out-of-shape population. This belief cannot be further from the truth. Low back pain is the number one reason people aged 45 and younger seek health care services. The spine is the most frequently injured part of the body in most workman's comp cases. The discs in between each vertebra, that cushion your spine and provide movement, can start to degenerate before you hit puberty. Now, close your eyes and think of ten people. It doesn't matter their age, race, gender, whether they're in shape, or out of shape, rich or poor. Eight of these ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Pay attention, because it doesn't matter your age or whether you're in good shape. You are at risk for back pain.
  1. "My back pain will just go away on its own." Patients entering my clinic frequently come in with the mindset that something very serious is happening to them because they've had lingering back pain that won't go away. Why? Because the majority of people believe their pain will go away on its own. And, if it doesn't, it must must be something more serious. Right? Wrong. Low back pain is typically not self-limiting--it won't just stop on its own. In fact, almost 50% of people that have back pain will still have pain after one year. And if you've already had back pain, you have a 40% chance of getting pain again within the same year. On a side note, 90% of back pain is usually just a simple backache. Less than two percent of back pain is from a serious spinal problem. Get your back pain fixed. It's probably not going away.

  2. "There was one thing I did that caused my back pain." Patients ask me all the time, "What did I do to cause my pain?" And I'll say, "Probably what you're doing now." Of course, the patient will look at me confused because he/she is just sitting. So why do I say this? Because the majority of back pain (approximately 86%) is caused by repetitive misuse, or doing things the wrong way for a long time. It's likely your pain is from performing the same tasks the wrong way for a long time. Think of the spine as a long row of dominoes. Each time you perform a task the wrong way, you knock down one of those dominoes until they all fall. When this last domino falls, your back "goes out." It didn't "go out" because you bent down to put on your shoes last night. Your back went out because you've bent down to put on your shoes the wrong way for five years. Your back "went out" because you sit for eight consecutive hours at your job every day. Your back "went out" because you pick up children improperly at a day care every day. Get the point? It's imperative that you learn the proper way to perform daily tasks and activities so you don't play dominoes with your spine.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL BACK SAFETY- Friday, September 06, 2013

BACK-TO-SCHOOL BACK SAFETY

Children attending school frequently suffer from back and neck pain. In fact, injuries related to backpack use have risen almost 300% in the past 10 years. Let's review some basic steps that your child can use to prevent a back and neck injury while attending school.

Step 1: Ensure your child is wearing a proper backpack

Your child's backpack should not be larger than your child's torso; the width and length of the backpack shouldn't exceed the size of your child's back. Specificially, a backpack shouldn't hang lower than 4 inches below his/her waist or extend beyond the width of his/her shoulders. In addition, the backpack should have two, padded straps that allow the backpack to fit properly in the center of his/her back.

Step 2:  Make sure your child carries less than 10% of his or her bodyweight in a backpack

Children are likely to suffer from upper and mid back pain if they repeatedly carry greater than 10% of their body weight in backpacks over their shoulders. There is a correlation between backpack weight (greater than 10%) and an increase in missed school days. And, as mentioned, children with back pain are more likely to develop back pain as an adult. Luckily, there is an easy solution:  keep less than 10% of your child’s bodyweight in the backpack!

Step 3:  Carry backpack loads correctly

Evidence shows that there is a particular way to carry objects in your backpack based on the environment in which you are walking. If you are walking over “rough ground,” you should carry the load of your backpack at the very bottom of the pack. If you are walking over “smooth ground,” carry the load high in your pack. The different walking environments produce varying stresses on the body. Placing the loads to accommodate the terrain can prevent back problems. Obviously, your child is walking over “smooth ground” at school, so keep the loads high in the backpack. And, don't forget to keep the larger, heavier objects closest to your child's body.

ARE YOU TAKING THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS AND VITAMINS?- Sunday, June 09, 2013

ARE YOU TAKING THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS AND VITAMINS?

The vitmain and supplement industry is a massive, multi-billion dollar industry. People take supplements for everything from weight-loss to weight-gain and eye support to improved hearing. If there is malady, there is someone telling you they have a vitamin or supplement to cure it. Vitamins and supplements can be great; I take over half a dozen a day. However, some vitamins and supplements are a waste of your money. 

Two specific vitamins and supplements that I see patients taking regularly that you should avoid are ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and protein concentrates. Ascorbic acid is a synthetic version of vitamin C and your body does not readily absorb it. You basically pee it out. Instead, try whole food vitamin C supplements. Whole food vitamin C comes from a natural, food source and your body does readily absorb it.

Similarly, protein supplements from concentrate are not readily absorbed by your body either. Make sure your protein supplement is from a natural, food source and is an "isolate," not a "concentrate."

Additionally, please read this article from Huffpost Healthy Living. It discuss five foods to stop taking and alternatives to each one. It's worth checking out!

Yours in health,

The BSWC

3 Tips to Protect Your Spine While Working in the Yard- Tuesday, May 28, 2013

3 Tips to Protect Your Spine While Working in the Yard

The end of Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer: nice weather, cool breezes, sunny skies....and yard work! Here are three tips to protect your spine while working in the yard.

1.  Garden properly -- Don't flex your back i.e bend incorrectly, while you garden. Instead, wear knee pads or kneel on a towel, or other padded item, to protect your knees. Kneel on one knee. Keep a neutral (straight) spine and use hip rotation (demonstrated in Dr. Zumstien's book) to lean forward. Switch knees every few minutes or less depending on your comfort. There isn't a set rule for how long you should kneel before switching knees. It's based on comfort. It's important to remember not to flex your spine and to keep your back neutral while you garden.

2.  Properly push the lawnmower -- Research indicates the best way to push an object, such as a lawnmower, is with the force directed through your low back. The low back is qualified as the area between the bottom of your rib cage to the top of your pelvis. As a result, the handles of your lawnmower should be located within this low back region.


3.  Use a wheelbarrow correctly -- To prevent injury, ensure you're lifting the wheelbarrow correctly: use a squat and rotate your hips forward. Do not flex (bend incorrectly) your spine. After properly lifting the wheelbarrow with your legs and not your back, push it with the force directed through your low back, as you would with the lawnmower. Finally, set down the wheelbarrow using a squat and hip roation again. Do not bend your back to lower it.


12 FOODS FOR YOUR SKIN AND HEALTH- Saturday, April 13, 2013

12 FOODS FOR YOUR SKIN AND HEALTH

Men's Health Magazine has posted a great story about nine foods they believe are essential for keeping your skin looking good and you feeling great. I'm re-posting the story because it is one story that I agreed with almost entirely. Every food that Men's Health lists is great for your skin and your overall well-being. However, I want to add to that their suggestion of low-fat dairy products is nice, but please be sure to have organic, low-fat dairy products as hormone-infused dairy isn't good for anyone. Secondly, water is great for your body, but I do encourage purified water.

Men's Health lists nine foods, but I'm going to add three more to the list for a total of 12 foods that everyone needs for healthy skin and well-being: flax seeds, red grapes (or alternative source of resveratrol), and echinacea.

To parody Dos Equis, stay healthy my friends!

The 9 best foods to keep your skin looking and feeling great

WGN-TV MIDDAY NEWS SEGMENT- Friday, April 05, 2013

WGN-TV MIDDAY NEWS SEGMENT

Dr. Zumstein recently appeared on WGN-TV in Chicago to promote his book and teach Chicago viewers his three favorite steps to preventing back and neck pain. We hope you enjoy this clip:

WGN APPEARANCE

When do you need new running shoes?- Monday, February 18, 2013

WHEN DO YOU NEED NEW RUNNING SHOES?

While earning my master's degree in sports rehab and exercise science, teachers recommended changing running shoes every 200-300 miles that you ran. Although that information I received was probably up to par at the time, the latest research is proving otherwise. In fact, a New York Times article mentions a significant study performed on runners that showed no clear relationship between how many miles they ran in their shoes and a higher risk of injury. To quote the aformentioned article, "No one really knows" when you should retire a running shoe.

Read for yourself, and please share your thoughts on when you think you need new running shoes!

WHEN TO RETIRE A RUNNING SHOE

9 Foods You Should Avoid- Tuesday, February 12, 2013

9 FOODS YOU SHOULD AVOID

I hope you enjoy this article as much as me. Anyone, who cares about the food they put into their bodies, must read this article. Here is your knowledge for the day:

9 INGREDIENTS NUTRITIONISTS WON'T TOUCH

3 Tips to Avoid Back Pain in the Morning- Monday, February 04, 2013

3 Tips to Avoid Back Pain in the Morning

Most have experienced it. All, who have, will never forget it. What? Back pain in the morning. Nothing is worse than waking up from a great night’s sleep to take your first step out of bed, and stop dead-in-your-tracks from shooting back pain. What can you do to decrease your odds of having this dreadful event occur? Here are three tips to avoid back pain in the morning.

  1. Get out of bed properly – The proper way to exit a bed upon waking is to roll onto your side and use your arm to push up from the side-lying position. From this position, scoot to the very edge of the bed and get up using your legs, not your back. Most people will perform a sit-up from the back-lying position, and then twist to get out of bed. This latter method is a great way to hurt your spine.
  2. Do not bend incorrectly for at least one hour after you awake – Your spine has discs in between each vertebra. When you sleep at night, your discs increase size and become more susceptible to bulging/herniating. Therefore, you must avoid bending improperly for at least one hour after you awake to allow the discs to shrink in size. People frequently bend down to put on their socks and pants when they awake. Instead, bring your feet up to you to complete this task. Otherwise, make sure you bend properly so that you don’t injure your spine during that one hour period.
  3. Be careful of your morning workout – Some people like to get out of bed and start their day with a few stretches or exercises. This sounds great in theory, but your morning workout routine may put you at risk for injuring your back. Make sure your workout does not include any activities where you are flexing/bending your spine. What is one common exercise where people flex their spine? Sit-ups. The typical sit-up—performed with knees bent and lying on your back—places significant stress on your spine. You should avoid this typical sit-up. There are multiple alternatives to the typical sit-up mentioned that place less stress on your spine. Additionally, avoid any stretches or exercises that force you to bend your back, such as touching as your toes.


4.5 Million Drug-Related Trips to the Hospital - Tuesday, January 08, 2013

4.5 Million Drug-Related Trips to the Hospital

The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants believe prevention is best. We like to teach people how to prevent back and neck pain from occurring, so people aren't faced with the dilemma of trying to treat the problem after they experience it. Research shows that once a problem occurs, such as back and neck pain, it is difficult to prevent it from reoccuring in the future. Furthermore, a recent study shows that 4.5 million people visited the emergency room in 2009 due to drug-related illnessess. Prevention is key!

Click here for a link to the article.

3 Steps to Preventing Back and Neck Pain While You Sleep- Wednesday, January 02, 2013

3 Steps to Preventing Back and Neck Pain While You Sleep

We spend between one-quarter to one-third of each day sleeping. It is a critical part of life, and necessary for us to function properly. Sleep should be a time to relax painlessly and prepare for a new day. Unfortunately, sleeping is not a relaxing time for some people, as it can cause back and neck pain. Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to ensure you are sleeping correctly to prevent neck and back pain.

First, make sure you're sleeping in a position that is conducive to maintaining the natural curves of your spine. Specifically, do not sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleeping can cause neck pain and headaches upon waking, and places your spine in an unnatural position. Try to sleep on either your side or back. If you're a side sleeper, place a pillow between your knees. If you sleep on your back, it may help to place a pillow underneath your knees. Placing the pillow between and underneath your knees gives your spine the best chance of maintaining its natural curves while you sleep.

Next, make sure you're equipped with the proper sleeping supplies. For example, it's difficult to find a pillow that properly supports your neck. Most feather pillows don't provide adequate neck support, which can cause neck soreness even if you are sleeping in the recommended side and back positions. If you find yourself awaking with neck pain or headaches despite sleeping on your back or side, it is likely that you need a cervical pillow. A cervical pillow is specifically designed to support the natural curves of your neck while you sleep, and places your neck in its desired, natural position. Cervical pillows are designed for side and back sleepers, but make it difficult to sleep on your stomach, which is an added perk to using it.

Lastly, make sure you are getting out of bed properly. Unfortunately, the majority of people will sit up, twist their back to prepare to get into a standing position, and use their back to stand. This method is incorrect. The proper way to exit a bed upon waking is to roll onto your side and use your arm to push up from the side-lying position. From this position, scoot to the very edge of the bed and get up using your legs, not your back.

Sleeping shouldn't be painful. It should be a time to relax. Implementing these aforementioned suggestions is a great way to decrease pain while you sleep and increase your odds of having a great night's rest.

3 Tips for Every New Parent to Prevent Back Pain- Wednesday, December 12, 2012

3 Tips for Every New Parent to Prevent Back Pain

One group of people that suffer from back pain is parents. Dr. Josh Zumstein recently appeared on the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, WI, to discuss 3 tips every parent, or person working with children and infants, can use to prevent back and neck pain. Take a look!

http://www.themorningblend.com/videos/182667001.html

3 Steps to Preventing Back Pain While You Drive- Thursday, November 22, 2012

3 Steps to Preventing Back Pain While You Drive

It’s no surprise that excessive sitting causes back and neck pain. Thankfully, the solution to excessive sitting is easy: stand! But what do you do when you drive a truck or taxi cab for a profession and you can’t stand? This solution is a bit more complex. Nevertheless, there are three steps you can take to prevent and alleviate your back and neck pain while driving.

Step 1: Use an ACCESSORY lumbar support. Most cars are equipped with an inherent lumbar support, but the reality is that these inherent lumbar supports are not sufficient. Be sure to purchase an accessory support (http://www.backsafetyandwellness.com/p/58/lumbar-mesh-support) and use it each time you drive. Lumbar supports discourage slouching and induce the proper curve in your low back.

Step 2: Set up your driver’s seat correctly. Try to sit with your legs and hips at 90 degrees, and place your butt all the way at the back of the seat to prevent slouching. Don’t continuously place your arms on the arm rest, as it causes a shoulder shrug. Finally, rest your head against the head rest at the spot directly above the bump on the back of your head. This position places your head in neutral.

Step 3: When possible, get out of your car and take a five minute walk. If you are driving across the country, take advantage of the rest stops to walk around for 10 minutes. If possible, pull over on the side of the road to stand and stretch.

Driving is a part of everyday life and a necessity to some people. Although driving is a leading cause of back pain, there are steps you can take to make it a more comfortable ride.


GOOD POSTURE: WHAT IS IT, AND HOW TO OBTAIN IT- Monday, October 08, 2012

GOOD POSTURE:  WHAT IS IT, AND HOW TO OBTAIN IT

You hear it all the time, “Stop slouching! Bring your shoulders back!” But does it matter? Does posture really make a difference? Yes, it does.

Research estimates that approximately 85% of back and neck injuries are from repetitive misuse. And what is poor posture? It’s repetitive misuse. The spine has natural curves. When you walk around with bad posture, you are preventing the spine from maintaining these natural curves, which can result in injury. Good posture means properly maintaining the spine’s natural curves and allowing the spine-stabilizing muscles to do their job.

Poor posture is a common cause of repetitive misuse to the spine because people don’t know any different. Most people aren’t educated on what poor posture is, or how to avoid it. Here are three, easy tips to achieving good posture (Please note: You may find all of this advice with accompanying pictures in Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain.):

  1. Keep your head neutral – Don’t place your head too far forward, backward, up, or down. The ideal head position has a SLIGHT chin tuck, which means your head should appear on the verge of having a double-chin, but hardly as extreme.
  2. Bring your shoulders back – Yes, the “old wives tale” is true. You need to bring your shoulders back. So, thank your mother for scolding you all those times. However, most people don’t know how to properly bring back their shoulders even if they’re told. Use this tip to know if your shoulders are properly positioned: stand up and place your arms at your side with your palms facing behind you. Next, rotate your thumbs all the way out until you can’t rotate them any further. This end position places your shoulders in the proper postural position. You don’t have to keep your hands in that position to maintain proper shoulder position.
  3. Stretch your head toward the ceiling/sky – The hardest postural concept for most people to understand involves the maintenance of the low back curve. Unfortunately, the low back curve, in my opinion, is the most important. As a result, if you imagine stretching your head up toward the ceiling/sky, you will automatically place your low back in the proper position.

Implementing these three tips will ensure you are walking around with proper posture. As you can tell, having proper posture is easy. You just have to know what to do. Hopefully, you will spread the word on how to obtain proper posture so we can eliminate the pandemic known as back and neck pain!

BACK PAIN AND YOUR FEET: WHAT’S THE CORRELATION BETWEEN YOUR ARCHES AND YOUR SPINE?- Wednesday, September 05, 2012

BACK PAIN AND YOUR FEET: WHAT’S THE CORRELATION BETWEEN YOUR ARCHES AND YOUR SPINE?

Does your back hurt? If so, you may need to check your feet. Yes, that’s correct—your feet. Your feet are your body’s base—its foundation. If your body’s base isn’t properly supporting its foundation, there will be problems. Imperfect feet can cause knee pain, unlevel hips, and back pain. So, it’s important to know which kind of feet you have and how to care for them.

There are three kinds of feet in this world: flat-footed (pronators), high-arched (supinators), and medium-arched (normal). How do you know which feet you have? You can perform a fairly reliable, simple test called the “Wet Feet” test:

Step 1: Wet the entire bottom of your feet.

Step 2: Step on a piece of paper, paper towel, or brown bag that is placed on a flat surface.

Step 3: Observe your wet footprint.

If your footprint reveals your entire foot, you are likely flat-footed. If your footprint reveals about 50% of your arch (middle of your foot), you likely have a normal arch. Lastly, if less than 50% of your foot is revealed, you probably have high-arches. Now that you know how to determine your type of arch, let’s talk about what’s next.

When functioning properly, the arch of your foot acts as a shock absorber. However, flat feet and high-arches do not properly function and can result in either too much or too little shock absorption. This change in arch function can result in back pain.

If you are flat-footed, you will need an arch support in your shoes. Some shoes have built-in arches that may suffice. However, an orthotic insert may be necessary in addition to a shoe’s built-in arch if your arch is severely collapsed. Be aware that flat-footed people are at higher risk for chronic low back pain.

High-arched feet, or supinators, do not have enough shock absorption and are at risk for knee and low back pain. A supinator needs a soft shoe with extra cushioning to compensate for the lack of shock absorption in their arches.

Please note that if you have normal arches you, too, must be wary of your shoes. Because your arch is adequate, it is important that you do not wear shoes with built-in arches as it may have an adverse effect.

If you are unsure of your foot type or which type of shoe is best for you, seek the advice of a qualified health professional. There are numerous running shoe stores that are available to assist you in properly selecting a shoe, as well. Back pain may result from myriad issues. If your back pain doesn’t resolve three weeks after you’ve changed shoes, seek professional help. You want to ensure your back pain isn’t a result of some other factor.


BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAFETY: 4 TIPS EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW- Monday, August 13, 2012

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAFETY:  4 TIPS EVERY PARENT NEEDS TO KNOW

            It’s that time again. No, I’m not referring to those pre-dawn wake-up calls, rushing your kids to school on time, or shopping for school supplies. I’m referring to the time your kids complain to you about their backs hurting again. Unfortunately, your child’s time in school, when you can’t observe, is likely injuring his or her back. And, children with back pain are proven to have a higher likelihood of developing back pain as an adult. The good news: there are easy steps to ensure your child doesn’t hurt his or her back during their school day.

Step 1:  Make sure your child carries less than 10% of his or her bodyweight in a backpack

Children are likely to suffer from upper and mid back pain if they repeatedly carry greater than 10% of their body weight in backpacks over their shoulders. There is a correlation between backpack weight (greater than 10%) and an increase in missed school days. And, as mentioned, children with back pain are more likely to develop back pain as an adult. Luckily, there is an easy solution:  keep less than 10% of your child’s bodyweight in the backpack!

Step 2:  Carry backpack loads correctly

Evidence shows that there is a particular way to carry objects in your backpack based on the environment in which you are walking. If you are walking over “rough ground,” you should carry the load of your backpack at the very bottom of the pack. If you are walking over “smooth ground,” carry the load high in your pack. The different walking environments produce varying stresses on the body. Placing the loads to accommodate the terrain can prevent back problems. Obviously, your child is walking over “smooth ground” at school, so keep the loads high in the backpack.  

Step 3:  Make sure your child walks correctly

According to research, walking quickly, as opposed to a slower walking pace, leads to a shorter recovery time for low back disorders and aids in prevention of future problems. Conversely, walking slowly may actually cause low back problems and worsen the symptoms of a current problem.

Step 4:  Sit Properly

Believe it or not, the perfect seated position is one that changes. There is no ideal seated position, because it is the act of sitting that is inherently bad. However, your child is most likely not allowed to get up and move around, while sitting in class. In this situation, there is a way to sit that will do the least amount of harm. To clarify, this advice applies to the person who is not able to stand up and stretch for a rest break. In this instance, the perfect seated position involves having perfect posture. Perfect posture starts with your child keeping a balanced head. A balanced head is in neutral position, meaning it’s not too far forward or backward. Neutral position involves a slight chin tuck—almost as if you are on the verge of a double-chin, but not as extreme.

The back is erect with the shoulders pulled back, hips are moved backward at 90 degrees (avoiding a “C-shaped” hump in the low back), feet are flat on the floor, shoulders are not shrugged, elbows are at 90 degrees and wrists are not bent. If you child isn’t working at a computer, you need not worry about your elbows and wrists. It is critical to prevent slouching.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and the founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

KINESIOTAPE: What it is, what it does, and the research behind it- Tuesday, August 07, 2012

KINESIOTAPE: What it is, what it does, and the research behind it

Have you suffered a recent muscular injury or know someone who has? Do you watch the Olympics? If you answered yes to either question, then you probably already know what kinesiotape is, and have likely seen it. But if you don’t know, kinesiotape (KT) is a popular palliative measure now used by most healthcare practitioners to speed up the recovery of a muscular injury. KT is the colored strip(s) of material that many athletes, particularly Olympians, wear while competing. Kinesiotape differs from “athletic tape” because the kinesiotape is more flexible and supposedly allows the athlete to maintain a full range of motion while using it. Kinesiotape is popular and fairly ubiquitous, but does it work?

There are many hypotheses as to how kinesiotape works. Some believe that the tape mimics human touch, and its application tricks the body into forgetting the pain to focus on the perception of “touch.” Others believe that the tape brings increased blood flow to the area and speeds up recovery, while a third belief is that the tape is purely psychological: the patient is more aware of the injury when it is taped, and is subsequently more cautious.

We can sit around and guess all day but here is some research:

1. A study published in 2008 (Thelen, Mark, MD. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2008 Jul; 38[7]:389-95) took 42 participants with shoulder impingement/rotator cuff tendonitis. It investigated kinesiotape’s effect on active ranges of motion on these 42 participants. Results showed that the participants using the KT had an increased, pain-free range of motion compared to those who didn’t use the KT. The study concluded that kinesiotape may assist in improving a pain-free, active range of motion.

2. A second study (Gonzalez—Iglesias, J. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2009 Jul;39[7]:515-21) looked at 42 people with neck pain. This study sought to find if kinesiotape can affect pain levels and active ranges of motion in the necks of the participants. Results indicated that the kinesiotape led to statistically significant improvements in whiplash-associated disorders, but minimal improvements in pain and ranges of motion.

3. Study number three (Fu, TC and AM Wong. J Sci Med Sport. 2008 Apr;11[2]:198-201. Epub 2007 Jun 27) is a pilot study that investigated the effect of KT on athlete’s muscle strength. Of the 14 healthy athletes used in the study, none demonstrated changes in their muscle strength (either an increase or decrease) as a result of using kinesiotape.

Based on the aforementioned research studies, we can conclude that kinesiotape doesn’t significantly affect overall pain levels or strength, but does seem to positively affect pain-free, active, ranges of motion. The studies didn’t discuss the physiological reasoning behind KT’s ability to improve active ranges of motion, so that debate will continue. Although I didn’t find any studies investigating the psychological effect of KT, I believe it does make the patient more aware of their injury, and thus more cautious.

In summary, it appears KT does not affect overall pain levels, but likely improves a pain-free active range of motion, which is highly beneficial to anyone, especially athletes. No wonder so many athletes—particularly Olympians—use it!

3 STEPS TO CREATING A PAIN-FREE WORK ENVIRONMENT- Friday, July 13, 2012

3 STEPS TO CREATING A PAIN-FREE WORK ENVIRONMENT

Nearly eight out of ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is a leading cause of workman’s comp claims and causes more disability for people ages 45 and younger than any other health care problem. Shockingly, almost 85% of all back injuries result from performing everyday activities incorrectly. Sitting, for example, is a leading cause of back pain along with other simple work related tasks. Why? Because people don’t know how to properly perform these basic activities. Since most people are unable to change their jobs or work environments, the following steps will allow you to enjoy a more pain-free work environment without compromising your job and efficiency.

1. STRETCH EVERY 20-30 MINUTES

Everyone should stretch, but this specific stretch is ideal for those of us that sit most of the day. Stretching every 20-30 minutes combats the effects of excessive sitting. To perform the appropriate stretch, stand up and reach toward the ceiling. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. During exhalation, stretch higher toward the ceiling. Next, with your palms pointed up, bring your arms down to the side of your body. Then, pretend you are holding a pencil between your shoulder blades and squeeze them together to prevent the pencil from falling. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. During this exhalation, hold the contraction of your shoulder blades together for 10 seconds. Relax. You have successfully completed the basic stretch needed to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. The entire stretch break will not take more than 30 seconds, yet its benefit will last exponentially longer. Repeat this stretch every 20-30 minutes, or as needed.

2. USE A VESTIBULAR DISC

If you have a sedentary job, use a vestibular disc while sitting. A vestibular disc is an inflatable, 1-2 inch thick cushion that health care practitioners typically use to restore balance. These special “cushions” force you to keep a dynamic seated position. I’ve witnessed numerous patients in clinic improve their back pain and discomfort after sitting on vestibular discs. I suggest sitting on one (with the smooth surface facing up) for 20-30 minutes out of an hour for the first week or two of use. If you don’t experience discomfort after 20-30 minutes out of the hour, try sitting on the disc for the entire hour. I don’t recommend sitting on an exercise ball, as research does exist stating the disadvantages of using an exercise ball DO NOT exceed the advantages. Visit www.backsafetyandwellness.com/p/52/vestibular-disc to see a vestibular disc.

3. DON’T DO TOO MUCH OF ANY ONE THING

Whether it is sitting, standing, twisting, or bending, the premise is the same: don’t do too much of any one thing. Performing the same movement repeatedly harms the body. The body likes symmetry and change. If the first two recommendations are not feasible for your job or lifestyle, do your best to change the order of your tasks. For example, switch the placement of your phone from the left side of your desk to the right side every other week, if you are unable to use a headset. Change your sitting position. Take rest breaks. It is little things like these that protect the body from overuse and injury. Excessive sitting or standing occurs after 50 minutes, so remember to take your stretch breaks.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain: 60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and the founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

3 Safety Tips for Every New Parent- Tuesday, June 26, 2012

3 Safety Tips for Every New Parent

As a parent, it is your duty to care for your newborn--to assure your child is safe at all times. But who is looking out for your safety--specifically, your back safety? Nearly, eighty percent of all people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. In fact, back pain causes more disability for people ages 45 and younger than any other health care problem. Caring for a newborn is difficult, but when you hurt your back during the process, it can be nearly impossible. Here are three important steps to protect your back, while caring for a newborn:

1. Pick up Children Correctly

Parents, grandparents, and daycare workers will likely agree that picking up children at some point has hurt their backs. Why? People perform it incorrectly! But don't worry, with three simple steps, you'll pick up beckoning children painlessly more times than you'll want. First, get close to the child and squat down. Then, keep your back straight, bring the child close to your body, and stand. Avoid using your back to pick up the child. If performed correctly, you've kept a neutral (straight) spine and didn't use your back to pick up the child.

2. Change a Baby's Diaper Properly

Parents of newborns know too well how often a baby's diaper needs changing. Hopefully, you're not placing unnecessary stress on your back each time you perform this important task. Use a changing surface that is high enough to prevent forward bending of your low back. However, if this is not feasible, keep your back straight, or neutral, and squat to bend forward. Work at a proper height to protect your back.

3. Properly Push a Stroller

The most important thing to consider when using a stroller is the height of the handles. When you push the stroller, the handles must be at a level that will prevent poor posture. If the handles are too low, it forces your back to bend forward, rounds your shoulders forward, and causes a forward head tilt. Avoid this. Check the handle height and ensure you are not slouched while you push the object. Keep your spine neutral (straight) throughout the task. The height of the handles should enable you to push the stroller with the force directed out of your low back. Think of your low back as the area between the bottom of your ribcage and the top of your hips.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and the founder of The Back Safety and Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

REFERENCES

  1. Liebenson, Craig.  Rehabilitation of the Spine:  A Practitioners Manual.  2nd ed.  Baltimore:  Lippincott, 2007.  Print.
  2. McGill, Stuart.  Low Back Disorders:  Evidence-based Prevention and Rehabilitation.  2nd ed.  Champaign:  Human Kinetics, 2007.  Print.
  3. Oz, Mehmet, M.D. “Dr. Oz.” Time Magazine 7 Mar. 2011: 90.  Print.


How to Golf Pain-Free: 3 Tips to Preventing Pain on the Golf Course- Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Golf Pain-Free: 3 Tips to Preventing Pain on the Golf Course

It's approaching the end of spring, and summer is around the corner. I don't know about you, but for me that means it's time to get the spider webs off the golf clubs. Unfortunately for many, it also means it's time to start experiencing that back and neck pain frequently associated with golf season, too. Here are three tips to preventing pain on the golf course, so you can golf pain-free all season long:

1. SWING YOUR GOLF CLUB CORRECTLY

Relax, golfers, you don't have to change your swing-just your stance. Instead of using your back to bend forward into your golfing stance, use hip rotation. Hip rotation is a key concept in protecting your spine and is an alternative to using your back to bend. With hip rotation, you are using your hips to bend forward, not your back.

Let me explain: people typically use their backs to bend down to pick up something and to bend forward to get into their golf stance. This method is incorrect. When people use their backs to bend, they create a visible "c-shaped hump" in their back, which stresses the spine. When you bend using hip rotation, you are using your hips to rotate your back forward, instead of your back. With proper hip rotation, your back will be straight, and there will be no visible "c-shaped hump" because your back is not bending. Your hips are rotating forward and your back is going along with your hips for the ride. After successfully using your hips to rotate forward, continue with your normal swing. This tactic applies to driving the ball, chipping, and putting. Don't bend your back, rotate with your hips.

You can find further explanation, including pictures, in my book Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine available at www.backsafetyandwellness.com/book

2. USE A GOLFER'S LIFT

Each time you bend down to pick up the ball or set it on a tee, use a "golfer's lift." A golfer's lift is best used for frequent bending and lifting of light items. To properly perform a golfer's lift, rotate your hips, keep your back neutral (straight), bend one of your knees, and use the unbent leg to swing behind you as a counterweight to balance yourself. Do not use the same knee to bend every time, and alternate between the left and right leg to balance. You may find it easier to hold on to something, like your golf club, for support.

3. WALK QUICKLY

Walking quickly, as opposed to a slower walking pace, leads to a shorter recovery time for low back disorders and aids in prevention of future back problems. Conversely, walking slowly may actually cause low back problems and worsen the symptoms of a current problem. Walking quickly will not only ensure you keep pace in between holes, but it will also make your back happy, too.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain: 60 Ways to Protect Your Spine, and the founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at http://www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

ARE MRI'S OVERPRESCRIBED? Questions you should ask, and tips to know when you need one.- Monday, June 11, 2012

ARE MRI'S OVERPRESCRIBED? Questions you should ask, and tips to know when you need one.  

              Physicians have long prescribed the use of MRI’s, or magnetic resonance imaging, to assist them in accurately diagnosing and treating patients. MRI’s provide valuable information—without the use of radiation—that physical examinations may not always reveal. However, negative publicity has recently surfaced alleging that MRI’s are overprescribed and potentially causing more harm to patients than good.

                Consider:  approximately fifty percent of all middle-aged people show evidence of a partially torn rotator cuff on imaging, but never knew they had it.  Why? Because the tear doesn’t cause them pain or affect their activities of daily living. A similar study shows that ten percent of participants, who claimed to have no pain or disability, had disc degeneration or a condition known as a “spondylo” appear in images of their spine (What’s even more ironic is that people with “normal” images typically have a higher likelihood of injury than people whose images appear “abnormal.”). Doctors see these “abnormal” findings in the image report and are ready to pounce on them, whether they’re the source of the patient’s problem or not. Are imperfect MRI findings causing physicians to treat patients for injuries that aren’t the cause of their disability or pain?

                There are over 28 million MRI’s performed every year in the U.S., and they are expensive. A simple MRI of the knee can cost up to $2,000. It makes sense that an MRI scan costs so much when you figure that the price of owning an MRI machine is anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million. That’s a lot of overhead. Are physicians, who own MRI machines, unnecessarily prescribing MRI’s to recoup their costs? Are physicians, who do not own MRI machines, unnecessarily prescribing MRI’s because they receive kickbacks from the owners? Who knows? I sure don’t know, but this is something else to consider.

                There is no denying that MRI’s and other imaging are critical to the health of a patient and the efficiency of the physician. I have personally prescribed multiple MRI’s during my clinical days and don’t regret a single prescription. However, every MRI I’ve prescribed fell within two categories:  the patient suffered recent trauma or injury, or the patient didn’t show improvement after two-three weeks of conservative care. I recommend that you receive an MRI or other imaging if you fall within these two categories, as well.

                MRI’s are critical to the health care industry. They provide valuable information that is often hidden to the naked eye and ambiguous upon physical examination. However, make sure your doctor is justified in prescribing one. I recommend the following tips to help you decide when you need an MRI:

-Get a second opinion. Whenever your doctor tells you anything you are not 100% comfortable with, get a second opinion. This rule applies to imaging, too. If you don’t think you need an MRI, get a second opinion. If your second opinion tells you to get an MRI, get it.

-If you haven’t had recent trauma or injury, try conservative care first before you schedule an MRI or other imaging. Try the conservative care for 2-3 weeks. If you don’t have improvement after 2-3 weeks, get imaging.

References

  1. Kolata, Gina, “The Downside of MRI’s: Do High-Tech Imaging Scans Cause More Harm Than Good for Casual Athletes?” Men’s Journal. Apr. 2012: 52-53. Print.
  2. Liebenson, Craig.  Rehabilitation of the Spine:  A Practitioners Manual.  2nd ed.  Baltimore:  Lippincott, 2007. Print.

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

3 Ways You are Hurting Your Back Everyday- Friday, June 01, 2012

3 Ways You are Hurting Your Back Everyday

     Nearly six billion people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, when that many people are affected, it's usually not a matter of “if” you will have back pain but “when.” The good news is that most back pain is preventable: research estimates that nearly 85% of back injuries are from repetitive misuse. Here are three ways you are hurting your back, and how to stop:

1.      DON’T BEND THE WRONG WAY AFTER SLEEPING                   

The spine consists of discs in between each vertebra, which allow for movement and cushion. These discs are primarily made of fluid, which is lost during the day and reabsorbed while you sleep, in a process known as disc imbibition. In fact, you lose up to 19 mm of height each day from the loss of disc fluid! After lying down for 2-3 hours, the discs reabsorb their lost fluid and are at full size. When they are full size, the potential stresses placed on the discs are increased by 300%. As a result, don’t flex/bend your spine for one hour after you have rested for at least 2-3 hours. If you must bend during this time, try squatting with your back straight. Avoiding flexion the spine after 2-3 hours of sleep is a great way to protect your back. Please understand, that I’m not saying you can’t bend during these aforementioned times, I’m saying it is especially important that you bend the CORRECT way.

2.      STOP USING YOUR BACK WHEN YOU STAND UP FROM SITTING          

Standing up correctly from the seated position is one of the most important things you can do to protect your back. It is also one of the easiest. Most people use their low backs to assist them in getting up from the seated position. This is wrong! Think about how many times you get up from sitting. Every time you use your low back to stand, you are flexing (bending) your spine and placing unnecessary stress onto it. Here is the easy solution:  before you get up from sitting, scoot all the way to the edge of your seated surface, keep your back straight, and get up using your legs. This may feel strange at first, but should become second nature after a few days. One tip to get started:  use your arms to assist your legs in the process. Place your hands into fists and use them to push up off the seated surface, while using your legs. Do not place your fists on your legs. Again, at no time will you flex the low back or use it to assist you in the standing process.

     Be sure to not bend your spine—keeping it neutral, as you sit down, too. Simply reverse this standing process, and use the same technique to sit down properly.

3.      STOP PUSHING AND PULLING OBJECTS INCORRECTLY

The safest way to push or pull an object is to direct the force of the movement through your low back. I will qualify the low back as the area between the bottom of your rib cage and the top of your hips. It is within this area that you should visualize a direct line of pull going into this region or out from the low back if you are pushing.

     You may apply this same concept to opening doors. Each time you open a door, try to open the door with the force directed through the low back. People typically open doors with the force directed to the right or left of their body, which creates a twisting torque. Try directing the force of the door through your low back instead. 

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.

Is An Exercise Ball Your Best Option?- Thursday, May 24, 2012

IS AN EXERCISE BALL YOUR BEST OPTION?

Exercise balls are the craze right now, and have been for awhile. I’ve recently read stories of teachers replacing their students’ desk chairs with exercise balls, and CEO’s replacing their employees’ workstation chairs with these inflatable spheres. Sitting on an exercise ball certainly is better than sitting on a stationery chair, but are exercise balls your best option?

Surprisingly, several research studies suggest that the disadvantages of sitting on an exercise ball do NOT exceed the advantages of using one. In these studies, some exercise ball users not only complained of pain while using the ball for a prolonged period, but experienced negative physiological effects. Uh-oh. So, now what? My suggestion—try using a vestibular disc.

“A what?” you ask. A vestibular disc is an inflatable, 1-2 inch thick cushion that health care practitioners typically use to restore balance. These special “cushions” force you to activate certain spine-stabilizing muscles while you sit, and to maintain a dynamic seated position. I’ve witnessed numerous patients improve their back pain and discomfort after sitting on a vestibular disc. I suggest sitting on the disc (with the smooth surface facing up) for 20-30 minutes out of an hour for the first week or two of use. If you don’t experience discomfort after 20-30 minutes out of the hour, try sitting on the vestibular disc for the entire hour.

Why You Have Back Pain: The Dangers of Excessive Sitting- Friday, May 18, 2012

Why You Have Back Pain:  The Dangers of Excessive Sitting

There is a pandemic in today’s society. This pandemic affects 5.6 billion people, or around eighty percent of the world’s population, and it’s probably not what you think. No, I’m not referring to AIDS, West Nile virus, or H1N1. I’m referring to low back pain. Yes, low back pain. 

Low back pain costs the United States over $5 billion in health care costs and forces employees to lose 93 million work days annually. Why? People don’t know how to protect their backs.  Eighty-five percent of back problems are from misuse. The chair you are sitting on to read this text is likely hurting your back, and you don’t know it. In fact, sitting likely causes most people’s back pain. Let me explain:  there is a specific correlation between excessive sitting and disc herniations (also known as bulging discs) of the back. Repetitive sitting damages the back more than physically demanding tasks, and places your body at a greater risk for any low back disorder, not just a disc herniation. Your spine is composed of vertebrae i.e the bones, and discs in between each vertebra that act as a cushion. These discs can move out of place and can cause back pain—this is a disc herniation.

Did I make you never want sit again? I hope not. That’s not my goal. My goal is to provide you with a way to combat the negative effects of excessive sitting. So, what can you do about it? Be aware of your actions. Stand up and stretch every 20-30 minutes.

Specifically, stand up straight and reach your arms toward the ceiling. While standing, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. During the exhalation, stretch your hands higher toward the ceiling. Next, with your palms facing up, bring your arms down to the side of your body. Then, pretend you are holding a pencil between your shoulder blades and squeeze them together to prevent the pencil from falling. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. During this exhalation, hold the contraction of your shoulder blades together for 10 seconds. Relax. You have successfully completed the basic stretch break to combat the effects of prolonged sitting. This entire stretch break will not take more than 30 seconds, yet its benefit will last exponentially longer. Repeat this stretch every 20-30 minutes, or as needed. 

Dr. Zumstein is the author of Secrets to Preventing Back and Neck Pain:  60 Ways to Protect Your Spine and founder of The Back Safety & Wellness Consultants. You can find his book, information about his company, or sign up for his free newsletter at www.backsafetyandwellness.com.