3 Tips to Avoid Back Pain in the Morning- Monday, February 4, 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 8, 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 2, 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.

Does Stretching Before a Run Prevent Injury?- Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I was taught that statically stretching a muscle, or holding a muscle in a sustained position for a short period of time prior to a workout, was harmful and decreased your strength. Instead of statically stretching your muscles, we were taught to dynamically stetch them--perform a less strenuous, lighter version of your intended workout. Here is a recent blog post I found to add some insight into the controversy:

Stretching Before a Run Neither Prevents nor Causes Injury

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!

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 ( 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.



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!



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.



            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

KINESIOTAPE: What it is, what it does, and the research behind it- Tuesday, August 7, 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!

 First ... Previous 2 3 4 5 6 Next