In an earlier post I talked in detail about avoiding pain and injury in the workplace, and after some feedback I decided that I should share some simple tips to help you position yourself properly in order to decrease neck and back pain during day-to-day activities. These are very simple things you can start to do immediately that will make a huge difference in your life.
Sleeping: Get into a neutral position! When sleeping on your back or side only use one pillow. Try to avoid lying on your stomach if you have neck pain, and when you are lying on your side try to make sure your head is positioned so that you are looking ahead instead of down at your feet. Contour pillows are good to use (though they take some time to get used to), or you can use pillows that incorporate a cervical roll.
Driving: Stay upright with your head against the headrest, and do your best to straighten your arms out in order to keep shoulders back. Tilt your rear-view mirror a bit toward the roof so that an upright posture is necessary to maintain the total field of vision in the mirror.
Reading: The best advice I can give you is do not read in bed. When you read in bed there is too much head flexion if pillows are bunched up behind the your head – which causes the neck pain. Instead of lying in bed, sit with your back against the headboard or in a chair next to the bed. Also sitting in an armchair or on a couch is acceptable, just so long as your neck and spine are straight.
Hobbies: For counter or lap-based hobbies such as quilting, sewing, collecting items in albums, etc. try not to continuously look down for long periods of time – make sure that you take a break to stretch and change your position every 20 minutes.
Cleaning: When possible try to make sure you are only in a half kneel or squat so that you maintain a neutral spine position. Otherwise try not to bend over for long periods of time, if you’re doing a large floor surface take periodic breaks in order to bring your spine back into a straight position.
Watching television: I know this is sometime really hard to do, but try your best to sit up straight in a chair or on your couch, and don’t slouch. Also – like with other tasks I recommend you get up periodically and walk around the room (perhaps during commercial breaks).
So, now that you have some tips on how to avoid neck and back pain try to work them into your daily life little by little. My recommendation would be to choose the items on this list that you participate in most often and actively think about whether you are doing everything you can to follow what I have outlined above.
If you do not notice an improvement after trying these things it might be time to come in and see us for some physical therapy. Don’t worry, just because your pain does not completely vanish doesn’t mean we can’t help you. Your best bet is to make an appointment to come in and speak with us as soon as possible so we can get to work making your daily life more comfortable. You can contact us through this form, or give us a call at 201-585-7300.