Three years ago, Burrard Massage Therapy discussed the benefits of better sleep habits. If you wake up early every day, you’ll also form a habit of sleeping early. It results in quality rest, which then helps you fight fatigue. This is the reason why athletes prioritize sleep aside from their rigorous training and healthy diet. It’s the best time to let the body and mind recuperate from sporting activities.
Different athletes have developed their own nighttime routines. Here are five elite athletes and their approach to recovery through sleep.
LeBron James — 12 hours
Because professional athletes exert a lot more energy than most people, they normally sleep more than the recommended 8 hours. LeBron James gets an average of 12 hours of sleep every night. This is an impressive feat considering that elite athletes often travel for games and it can be hard to get proper shuteye. Some practice games can last for hours and then there are late-night parties, too. It’s another display of discipline on James’ part. The athlete’s dedication to his sleep and fitness has clearly paid off as he is second in Ladbrokes’ list of the current highest earning sports stars on the planet. His passion for basketball is admirable, as he plays his heart out every game. Resting as much as he can allow him to do it all over again in the next match.
Andy Murray — Napping
2016 Olympics gold medalist Andy Murray loves to sleep. Like James, he also makes sure to get 12 hours of sleep every day and even takes naps—sometimes lasting 2 hours. The former world no. 1 male tennis player explained that “rest is so important. On the days when I am not playing I try to get in and do my work early, deal with everything else that has to happen, and then get home and have a nap.”
Gabby Douglas — Meditation
One of gymnastics’ Fierce Five, Gabby Douglas, has learned to honor her body at a very young age. Her days start at 7 AM and she is normally in bed by 8 PM but she doesn’t go to sleep right away. The 2012 Olympics all-around champion in women’s gymnastics has a secret for better sleep: meditation. The practice can clear the mind and helps you fall asleep faster. Mindful breathing boosts the body’s melatonin levels, the hormone that induces deep sleep. It’s the reason why Douglas feels so relaxed before bedtime.
Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue — Sleep monitor
Canada’s own ice-dancing team, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue, have a more technical approach to sleeping. The 2018 Olympic gold medalists enlisted the help of a physiologist to improve their performance on ice. Their sleeping patterns were monitored, as well as their brain waves and heart rate. The expert used the data to personalize a sleeping schedule that will work best for the pair. Before heading off to South Korea, Virtue said, “I think that will put us at the start line feeling refreshed and energized, as opposed to exhausted by the end of the season.” Given the results of the Games, it certainly worked in their favor.
Michael Phelps — Sleeping chamber
Michael Phelps might be retired, but the American swimmer still holds the title as the most decorated Olympian of all time. Anything he does to maximize performance, down to his most unusual habits, is worth looking into. Phelps reportedly slept in a special sleeping chamber to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. Business Insider specified that the “giant box” replicates the barometric conditions in an altitude of 8,500 to 9,000 feet. This helps his body produce more red blood cells, which can then deliver more oxygen to his muscles. In other words, Phelps was essentially training even while he slept..
Article by Resha Johnson
Article only for bhcmt.com
How are they related
If you wake up in the morning with a stiff neck or excruciating neck pain, it’s probably because of the pillow that you slept on. Headache is also a consequence of neck pain, and caused because of the wrong pillow. That is why your pillows and neck pain are related so strongly to each other. So, it is so important that your neck is supported well as you sleep.
Why is it so important to select the right pillow
A great pillow supports your neck and head, which gives your entire body the deep rest that it craves for as you sleep. Your neck has the most vulnerable parts of your body, such as the spinal cord, jugular vein, carotid artery and throat. It is important to get proper support for the neck as without proper support, the tissues can break down causing damage to the neck. A great pillow, such as an orthopaedic or cervical support pillow, helps to remove the pressure sustained by the shoulders and neck, offering a perfect alignment and support to the neck. That is why selecting the right pillow is so important.
The Perfect Pillow for the Right Sleeping Posture
You may prefer to sleep on your back, side or stomach. It is important to keep this in mind when you’re in the market for a pillow. A great pillow is designed to assist you to sleep soundly in the sleeping posture of your choice. We discuss the best sleeping postures and the right type of pillows to choose for each of these postures.
The Best Sleeping Posture
The best sleeping posture is to lie straight on your back, which balances your neck, head and spine in perfect alignment as you sleep. This posture helps greatly in reducing your neck and back pain. It is best to purchase a puffy pillow for this as you should be careful enough to avoid propping up your head too much, while at the same time keeping your head and neck well supported.
The Second Best Sleeping Posture
Sleeping on the side is a great posture for pregnant women. Even for others, it helps reduce chances of neck pain and back pain. Further, it elongates the spine. If you’re in the habit of sleeping on the side, it is best to purchase a really thick pillow, as it fills up the space above your shoulders and keeps your neck and head well supported.
Sleeping Postures to Avoid
Sleeping in the fetal posture has to be avoided as it is a big cause of both neck pain and back pain. But if you’re in the habit of sleeping in the fetal posture, use a really thick pillow, the thickest that you can find.
Sleeping on the stomach also causes serious back pain and neck pain and should be avoided. If you’ve a habit of sleeping in this posture, then you should be using just one pillow and a thin one at that.
Selecting the Perfect Pillow
Selecting the perfect pillow is about selecting one with the perfect thickness that is most suitable for you keeping your sleeping posture in mind. Traditional pillows are made of foam and not ideal for your neck. You should choose orthopaedic neck pillows such as millet pillows, buckwheat pillows or cervical pillows for providing your neck the perfect support.
While selecting a pillow, you should pay close attention to the structure and design, and whether this takes into consideration the contours of the body. You should look for additional functionality and benefits, such as – is the pillow as good for back pain as it is for neck pain?
Picking the right pillow is so important as a good pillow can make the difference between waking up with neck pain or not. It is equally important to get your sleeping posture right – sleep on your back or on the side. A combination of the right pillow and the right sleeping posture is certain to make your neck pain a thing of the past.
So, how many times a week should you be exercising?
Frankly, there is no definite answer to this. Most health and fitness experts have their own take on this and nobody has come to a single unanimous conclusion on how many times a person should exercise.
In this article, we give you a number based on the opinion of a majority – if not all of fitness experts. But why is it so difficult to to say for certain how many times an individual should exercise?
Well, it’s possible you know someone who works out 6 times a week and yet gets results that can only be described as below average. Then you have a friend who works out just a couple of times a week at the gym and has a ripped body. So, just because someone works out more times a week doesn’t mean he or she is going to be fitter, leaner, or stronger.
The reason for this is that exercise is just one part of the equation when it comes to achieving health and fitness. There are so many other factors involved, such as – do you get enough rest to allow your body to recover from the strain of a physical activity?
Do you have healthy, wholesome meals that are high in protein and low in carbs? Rest and nutrition are just as important to fitness and bodybuilding as exercise.
That being said, how many days should you exercise? Well, a good answer to that is, you should exercise as often as your social, professional and family life will allow you to. And once you arrive at a number, scale back slightly, till you are perfectly comfortable.
If you are student living alone, without any family commitments, you could probably afford to exercise 6 times a week. Now, since that is too much and you will have a social life as well, you can scale that back slightly – to 4 to 5 times a week.
If you are a professional with a family, then it would probably be too much to exercise 6 times a week. You should aim to exercise 4 times a week, and perhaps scale that back to 2 to 3 times a week.
Now, how many times you exercise also depends on whether you do weight training at the gym or cardio, or a combination of both. Weight training should never be done every day. When you perform resistance exercises, your muscles get tired and require rest.
It is important to give them a recovery time of at least 24-48 hours, so that the damaged or strained muscle fibers can heal and repair themselves. So, aim to do just 2 to 3 weight training sessions in a week.
And if you’re doing cardio workouts – how often you should do them depends on the intensity of the cardio activity. If your cardio consists of brisk walking, you should be able to do it 6 times a week quite comfortably; if it’s jogging, bicycling or running, you should do it 3 to 4 times a week. And if your cardio consists of HIITs (or high intensity interval training), you should only do it 2 to 3 times a week.
The most important thing is to give yourself enough rest in between exercise sessions, whether you do cardio or resistant training. Scheduling at least a couple of rest days a week is important as it helps you relax mentally and emotionally in addition to giving your muscles ample recovery time. This ensures that you don’t get burned out or stressed – which can happen if you push yourself too hard.
One of the constant debates in bodybuilding centers on fat versus muscle. Is it really true that fat is heavier than muscle, or is it the other way around? Well, it is a fact that 1 pound of muscle weighs the same as 1 pound of fat, but then that is the case for any substance that is weighed. What’s different though, is their relative densities.
First, we define the terminologies – fat and muscle.
What Is Fat?
Fat is a brown colored substance present in the body, which is not very vascular and works as a tremendous reservoir of energy, especially when the body is starving and needs every bit of help it can get. However, for the most part, you don’t really need fats. Fats are in fact a throwback to the Stone Age era when our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, and often were on the brink of starvation. Fats kept them alive during those hard times.
What Is Muscle?
Muscle are lean and healthy tissue that attach themselves to the bones and provide the critical work that the body needs for most of its activities. Muscles provide that force that is required, whether to keep the heart beating or food moving. Muscles are critical for our survival. They give us strength, they keep us going. Muscles help us perform hard physical tasks.
Fat Vs Muscle: It’s All About Density!
While a pound of muscle may weigh the same as a pound of fat, the difference lies in the density. Muscles have an 18% higher density than fat. What that means is, a higher concentration of muscle results is a leaner body composition because of the fact that muscles are denser and hence occupy less volume.
However fat is not dense, and it occupies a lot of space, and so if your body is composed of extra fat, because of overeating or an unhealthy lifestyle, this results in a bloating of the body. In other words, too much fat causes obesity, and obesity is a serious epidemic in the United States, where 35% of the population can be considered to be obese.
Also, the concept of density means that when you work out at the gym, and do a plenty of resistance training exercises, you may not automatically weigh less on the weighing scales. Indeed, you may find yourself actually having increased your weight. Don’t be alarmed, because this means you have picked up more muscle, which has added to your weight. How can you be sure?
Try wearing the jeans that you used to wear when you were younger and much fitter, which you’d given up wearing recently because it had become too tight for you.
Chances are that after a month of resistance training in the gym and running on the treadmill, the jeans may not fit you perfectly! So, although you weight a few pounds more, you are much fitter and leaner now because you have built more lean muscle.
For lean muscle, you should have foods that are rich in proteins such as beef, chicken, fish, egg white and so on. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have foods that provide fat at all.
You should have food that provides healthy fats such as tofu, nuts, egg, peanut butter and so on. This keeps you energetic as well as lean and healthy. And to build a hard, lean body, in addition to a protein rich diet, you should make a habit of working out regularly.
Have you considered getting a deep tissue massage? It is one of the most intense therapeutic massages you can have, which stimulates the body and energizes you, offering instant relief for chronic muscle pain and other muscle dysfunctions. It is certainly not meant for recreational purposes, but is performed on those who are looking to heal from an injury or ailment.
Deep tissue massage is considered to be an effective treatment for the following muscle and health disorders…
- Chronic pain
- Muscle strain, spasms, or tension
- Whiplash and other Muscle injuries
- Sports injuries
- Tennis elbow or Carpal tunnel
In this article, you will learn all you need to know about this highly effective muscle therapy.
What is Deep Tissue Massage?
Deep tissue massage is a special massage therapy technique that focuses on the realignment and manipulation of the deeper layers of muscle and tissue.
It consists calculated strokes that are with the muscle grain or against it, performed slightly slower than other massage techniques, but with more pressure. So you will get a most intense massage experience, which offers instant relief from the pain and tension within specified areas.
The massage breaks down the pockets of tense tissues which cause inflammation or pain and prevent a full range of motion or proper blood circulation. All the pressure is focused on specific points, which releases much of the tension in the muscles, leading to a better range of motion and circulation.
What Problems Does Deep Tissue Massage Solve?
Deep tissue massage is very effective against any muscle related injuries, strains or sprains. It is recommended for sports injuries in particular.
It helps the muscles recover faster after suffering a blow, fall or other sorts of injuries. This makes it very popular with professional boxers, martial artists and other professional athletes.
Those who are suffering from chronic pain should also consider this massage. As said at the start, deep tissue massage is not meant for recreational purposes and is used to cure dysfunctions only.
This massage relieves much of the pain that patients suffer post-surgery and helps restore full functionality to the affected or operated area. It offers instant relief to those suffering from chronic pain and helps increase the mobility of the muscles.
What Should You Do Before the Deep Tissue Massage?
Once you schedule a session of deep tissue massage with us, remember not to have too much food before your appointment. Don’t take too much water or other liquids just before the massage.
This is important as a lot of pressure is applied during this massage, so you could feel deeply uncomfortable if your stomach is full.
Be relaxed, and arrive on time. Unwind before the massage starts and give your body enough time to relax. Let the massage therapist do what’s needed to be done, to offer instant relief from the pain that you are feeling.
What Should You Do After the Deep Tissue Massage?
Following the massage, make sure to have lots of water so that your body can recover and all toxins are completely removed from the system. You might consider applying ice packs to certain inflamed areas, if the massage therapist says so.
Deep tissue massage is a wonderful experience and can offer instant relief from chronic muscle pain. Contact us to know more.
When it comes to getting more healthy, often we are great at starting a routine, but then we seem to fall off of the wagon a couple of weeks and months later.
At the same time, we always are very good about checking our phones often and using all of the apps that are on it.
So what if we could combine the apps on your phone which you always carry around, with getting into better shape.
Today we are going to show you three amazing apps that you can download right now to get started with living a better, and healthier life all around.
When it comes to drinking enough water, we are all guilty of not consuming enough daily.
What if there was an app to help you not only keep track of your water intake but remind you exactly when you need to fill up?
Well, there is, and its a fantastic app called WaterMinder.
The power in WaterMinder is that every time you take a drink of water, coffee, juice or more, you log the millilitres you just drank into the app.
Then it tells you how much more you have to drink to hit your daily goals which you set ahead of time.
What’s better is that you can set the frequency alerts to give you a gentle reminder throughout the day to drink another glass of water.
Once you start using the app, you will soon realize that you are drinking a lot less water than you should be.
For those of you that want to get themselves ready for the next 5k, there is no better app than C25K.
Better known as Couch to 5K, the app is an amazing interval running trainer which helps you get your body ready for the rigors 5K runs.
To train for such a long race, you need to get your body prepared to get up to this level.
And within eight weeks and only three times a day C25K gives you the ability to be your personal running trainer.
Its power is in the fact that you can set up your walking then running time, so you can walk two minutes, run one, then as you build up to then walk one minute, and run one minute, and so on to build up from there to more time running than walking.
How can you improve your health and workouts if you are not even tracking your routines and what you are doing?
With the amazing Fitlist, you have a workout app, fitness tracker, and exercise journal all in one.
The app comes with nearly every activity under the sun, and you can track your routines with ease.
Log your reps, the amount of weight, and your sets within seconds.
And what’s more is that you can easily create routines that you can add to the daily calendar to allow you just to start working out right away without having to think about what exercises you are going to do.
When it comes to staying fit and staying healthy, we often need a little help.
And since you have your phone with you all of the time, why not use the amazing apps on your phone to get you to be the best you can be.
Experiencing persistent pain between your shoulder blades? Don’t worry – this is a common complaint and one that’s usually caused by lifestyle factors or poor posture rather than anything serious. It’s also known as interscapular pain, and it can either be a sharp, jabbing sensation or a dull, throbbing ache. The pain might also affect other parts of your back or arms, and it can feel different on different days.
It can be irritating if pain between the shoulder blades is stopping you doing what you love, affecting your daily life or causing you to lose sleep. If that’s the case, check out our quick and easy tips to ease the pain between your shoulder blades.
What causes pain between the shoulder blades?
Lifestyle factor such as repeatedly over-exerting the muscles, hunching over a computer all day or sleeping on a poor quality mattress are some of the most likely causes of this kind of pain.
However, in some cases, pain between your shoulder blades can be an indication of something a bit more serious. Go to the doctor if you’re also experiencing chest pain or vomiting, or if you’ve ever suffered a traumatic injury to the spine.
How to overcome pain between the shoulder blades
Luckily, there are a number of exercises and remedies you can use to try and alleviate this kind of pain. Here are four of our favourites.
- Stretch. Position yourself on all fours on the floor, alongside an object that’s around knee-high when you’re standing. Place your palm on the object, so that your arm bends at a 90-degree angle. You’ll then twist the shoulder joint, and push the shoulder downwards toward the other hand. Remember to exhale as you do so, and repeat up to eight times with each arm.
- Have a massage. Massage is a deeply relaxing practice and tension is released from the muscles as they are gently manipulated. A massage should be a regular part of your health and wellness routine.
- Try yoga. There are plenty of asanas (or poses) within yoga which can help you to effectively target pain between the shoulder blades. The cat/cow postures are some of the best. To do this, get on all fours and keep your back in a neutral position, tucking your tailbone under. As you inhale, round out your spine and put your chin to your chest. Hold for a few seconds for exhaling, arching your back as much as you can and looking up to the ceiling. Repeat 8-10 times daily.
- Improve your posture. How you sit on a day to day basis can have a major impact on your muscles. To ease the persistent pain between your shoulder blades, readjust your screen so you can sit up tall at your desk. Pretend you’re squeezing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades to keep the muscles engaged.
- Warm up your muscles. Baths and a hot water bottle will temporarily alleviate the pain as well as having a relaxing effect.
For more health tips, check out our blog. To find out more about our friendly team, check out our therapists page.
Have you ever been tempted to skip stretching before your daily work-out? You’re not the only one. We’re all busy these days, and sometimes just finding the time to commit to health-boosting exercises in the morning is hard enough, without setting aside an extra five minutes for stretching. Besides, running leads to a leaner body, lifting weights builds muscle. You can’t see the physical benefits from stretching, making it an oh-so-tempting step to skip.
But while it might seem like an added bonus, warming up is actually fundamental to the health of your muscles, as well as the quality of your workout. In fact, some experts believe that stretching is just as essential as exercise itself. Let’s take a look at why.
Why is stretching so important?
The simplest advantage that stretches before exercise offer is that they prepare your muscles for exercise by increasing the blood flow to the relevant muscles, simultaneously warming them up and lengthening them out. If they’re prepared, they’re more pliable and so you’re much less likely to get a cramp or suffer an injury while you’re working out. This is true in both a short and long-term sense.
Cooling down afterwards is just as important – some exercises, like weight training, can leave muscles contracted and feeling tight. Stretching them out not only releases tension but helps them to recover. Additionally, stretching can aid flexibility as it improves the range of motion your muscles can achieve. It’s likely you’ll relax and zone out as you stretch, meaning this practice has benefits for the brain, too.
Some easy stretches that can be done anywhere
Try out these simple stretches next time you exercise. They’re quick and straightforward so can be done anywhere, from the office to your backyard.
- Hamstrings: sit on an even surface with both legs straight out in front of you. Trying not to round the back too much, hinge forwards from the hips and attempt to touch the toes. If you can’t, it’s not a problem – don’t strain or bounce backwards and forwards. Just lean forwards as far as you can and hold the position for 20 seconds. You should feel the burn in the back of your legs!
- Lower back: this one is great for office workers whose back muscles are used to staying in the same position all day. Sit on the floor, as tall as you can, legs out in front of you. Slowly turn your whole ribcage to the left, lifting upwards and around, twisting as much as you can. Repeat on the other side.
- Hips and quads: Kneel down so that both knees are bent and your skins are parallel touching the floor. Bring one leg forwards in front of you, place both hands on that knee, and gently push your hips forward into the stretch. Keep your chest facing forwards, and try to hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
What happens when you don’t stretch?
Nothing dramatic will happen the first time you don’t stretch. Or the second. But if skipping your stretches becomes a habit, it’s likely that you’ll start to experience niggling pains that don’t go away. These aches and pains can result from tight muscles, which are not as effective at coping with stress and exertion as stretched ones are, and if you’re not careful, serious injuries can arise as a result.
How long should my stretches be?
Stretching doesn’t need to be complicated, and a routine can be added into your regular warm-up. You should ideally hold each repetition of your stretch for 8-10 seconds, and try each stretch 2-3 times. A period of 10-15 minutes is ideal to stretch out your body and warm up before exercise. We think you’ll soon start noticing – and appreciating – the difference!
Tons of studies lately have come out detailing the risks of aspirin and ibuprofen which are typically prescribed to relieve back pain. But if you want to cut out harmful pharmaceuticals, how do you get rid of that nasty back pain that keeps you up at night?
Before we get to how to fix it though, we need to identify what’s wrong. According to Livestrong, around 95% of patients with back pain do not have an identifiable cause for their pain that can be diagnosed. This is concerning because it means if our doctors can’t identify why we have pain, it’s then hard to identify how we can tackle it. This has led to the common practice of recommending patients try the same old remedies, no matter the type of back pain they are experiencing.
This tends to work in most cases, but in the few that it doesn’t, it can become a costly process. Especially when words like “spinal curvatures” and “vertebrae fracture” just make the whole thing that much more confusing.
Instead here are some exercises, remedies, and programs that will help depending on what kind of relief you are looking for and what kind of pain you are experiencing:
Recommended for: mild pain, need for immediate relief, and for those with an active lifestyle.
An obvious remedy at times, stretching is also one of the most forgotten ways to prevent and target back pain. With conflicting articles on the importance and need of stretching before exercising, we’re here to is mandatory.
The obvious reason is that because for most mild to medium back pains the cause is usually to do with a misalignment of your spine and stretching can help to get your vertebrae back into the right position. We see this as especially important for those with lower back pain, one of the most common diagnosis in North America. Lower back pain is a common symptom of our longest work days, the one’s where we sit at our desks for 9 hours and stare at a computer screen. This sedentary lifestyle can mean bad things for your back and can lead to pain over the long-term if we aren’t careful.
In Santa Monica the city introduced mandatory exercise programs where employees (especially in physical labour careers) have to stretch before they begin their day. This was in response to Japanese mandates, who have had this for much longer than anyone in North America. Participants of the program felt more limber and ready to take on their work, even after several hours at their desk that morning. Though the results of the program aren’t clear yet, these kind of programs can go a long way in eliminating lower back pain in workers across the country.
2. Water Therapy
Recommended for: medium – severe back pain, a longer relief program, and those who want to return to an active lifestyle.
One remedy on the rise is something called Water Therapy exercises which works to relieve lower back and neck pain through soothing exercises in the pool. It’s also said to strengthen muscles and can be particularly helpful for those whose back pain keeps them from being able to participate in land exercises and would like to build up the strength to get back to a healthy and fit state.
Water therapy is also used across many disabilities and has been proven to be a gentle way to regain your previous mobility. Some exercises include knee lifts, leg raises, and walking across the pool. These exercises can all be heightened in difficulty as well to provide an exercise program that is well-rounded and fit to match whatever level of pain you are experiencing.
How do you get involved with water therapy? Contact your local community centre or gym and see if they have a program for you. You’ll need an experienced trainer and a pool with a designated day for rehab and therapy.
Recommended for: mild pain, immediate relief, long-term program, and low-cost seekers.
Meditation is one of the most common remedies for almost any type of pain but it’s specifically proven to help with those with back pain. Because a lot of what is attributed to pain is mental, calming your mind and body through things like yoga breathing and meditation can go a long way in coping and coming to terms with your pain.
The idea behind meditation is that pain is attributed to our parietal lob in the brain and by training our brain and targeting our sensory phenomena we can essentially fool our brains into not feeling pain. To be clear, meditation does not eliminate pain, but it can help you manage and live with it. It’s even proven to work quite well with patients who were new to meditation and not necessarily experts in the art. Overall all the studies that Wake Forest University held on the subject, the subjects who performed mediation showed more than 40 percent reduction in pain compared to non-meditators.
Meditation is also a considerably less expensive option to its many alternatives, which is fitting as it’s said that it costs anywhere from $560 to $635 billion annually to treat back pain in America. That’s why finding something like meditation, which requires no support from a trainer or product, is ideal as a relief program for the cost adverse.
4. Posture Training
Recommended for: mild pain and prevention and long-term programs.
Bad posture is one of the most frequent causes of back pain and should explain why your mother nagged you for years to keep your shoulders up and head straight. The reason for this is because bad posture is essentially leaving your spine out of shape for long periods of time, whether sitting or standing. Having good posture leads to your entire spinal cord and lower back being balanced and aligned, and if practiced over a long period of time, can prevent most cases of back pain and spine misalignment.
Although you may be thinking back to the old princess movies with girls balancing books on their heads, there are some much simpler ways to improve your posture through a couple key exercises. One that might surprise you, but is incredibly effective, is imagery and visualization. A Health Report from Harvard Medical School recommends that you focus on thinking about a straight line when you feel you posture is misaligned. “Imagine that a strong cord attached to your breastbone is pulling your chest and rib cage upward,” says the Health Report.
They also recommend a couple different stretches that promote posture, such as squeezing your shoulder blades together, stretching you upper body flat on a wall, and crossing your arm across your chest to touch your elbow. All of these, and a simple attention to better posture, can all lead to back pain prevention and relief over the long term.
5. Chair Supports
Recommended for: mild – medium pain, long term relief, and those that work a desk job.
We all know that one person at the office with the expensive chair with the back supports, but does it really help their backs? According to Paul Cooke, M.D chairs that don’t actively work to support your spine make your muscles work that much harder and makes the inhabitant of the chair feel exhausted and fatigued by the end of the day. Because we end up spending anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week in our office chairs and then return home to sit for hours on our couch, there isn’t much relief for our muscles or lower back.
There’s two ways to prevent and alleviate back pain through our seat types: sitting right and having the right chair. For the office, some things to look for when shopping are recline, adjustable seatbacks, and lower back support. Recline is great for when you don’t need to sit upright (i.e. reading a document or talking on the phone) because it gives some much needed relief and movement to your day. An adjustable seat means you can tailor the chair to your height and upper back, meaning you can properly support all parts of your back even if your over six feet tall. Most top-of-the-line chairs you can find will have some sort of lumbar back support, but make sure to test out the chair yourself to make sure it supports your lower back in the right and most comfortable way.
The key, however, is not just a focus on your office furniture. Make sure you take a look at the couches and chairs you have at home and make sure you aren’t spending too much of your day seated in chairs that aren’t supporting your spine in the right ways.
6. The Right Shoes
Recommended for: mild pain and prevention and long term relief.
According to David S. Wolf, DPM, you can think of your body as a kind of building with the feet being the foundation. If your foundation isn’t right and isn’t being supported in the right way, the whole building sitting atop it will be off kilter and even has the chance of falling apart completely. So when we think about back pain, we have to realize that if we aren’t supporting our feet in the right way that it can mean disastrous things for our spine health.
As much as we don’t want to hear it, some of our favourite shoes can be the cause of that back pain we’re experiencing. Heels, flip flops, and Crocs are some of the biggest culprits which don’t provide the right kind of support and create extra stress and strain on our lower backs. Inserts and orthotics are the easiest way to take your shoes and make them more suited to back health, but investing in custom footwear is always a good idea. Even getting used to wearing running shoes on a daily basis, even if it might mean breaking away from your unique style, can mean great things for your back.
The first step is to visit your podiatrist and ask what the best option for you is today and to start work in improving your footwear or customizing a new pair specific to you.
7. Control Your Weight
Recommended for: mild – severe pain, long term program and immediate relief.
One of the most common causes of chronic back pain, especially in obesity-prone North America, is excessive weight gain. This is due to again extra weight causing misalignment in the spine, especially for those carrying a lot of weight in their mid-sections. Specifically for those in the weight range that can be classified as overweight or obese have been scientifically proven to have a higher risk of back pain. Beyond that, studies show that even losing just a few pounds can make a world of difference on your spinal alignment.
Healthy weight loss is key and going to your doctor to find the right work out plan for you is a wise decision. But if you’re looking for a place to start, ease yourself into cardio exercises or classes that won’t put too much strain on your back. Things like swimming or dancing can be low-intensity but high-reward as they won’t irritate your back but will help you shed a few pounds. If you plan on exercising with weights, make sure to have a trainer teach you how to properly lift so you don’t put any access strain on your lower back.
In all, visit your doctor first to try and identify what type of back pain you have. But if you’re like the majority of patients, the above are just a few exercises that will keep you feeling great and match whatever lifestyle you live.