Many of the patients who visit our chiropractic clinic in Ealing for the first time have back problems caused by lifestyle factors. These factors include things like sitting too much, not exercising enough, smoking, and so on.
Although our experienced team of chiropractors can perform several chiropractic treatments to help these patients obtain pain relief, lifestyle adjustments often will be required for a long term resolution of their back problems.
In this guide, our Ealing chiropractor identifies some common habits and lifestyle choices which may be causing your bad back, and provides several solutions for dealing with them.
Bad Habit #1: Sitting For Long Periods
Spending many hours in a seated position each day can eventually have an impact on the health of your spine. Excessive sitting hurts your back by:
- Restricting blood flow to spinal discs
When you are seated, the lumbar region of the spine (lower back) is compressed. This can restrict blood flow to the intervertebral discs in this region, which can eventually cause the health of the discs to decline, increasing the risk of disc herniation.
- Creating muscular imbalances
Excessive sitting can cause the muscles in the lower back, abdominal region, and legs to become weak. Other muscles can also be incredibly tight from overuse, including muscles around the shoulders and neck. These imbalances often lead to back pain.
- Encouraging poor posture
It can be difficult to maintain good posture while sitting for long periods. Most people will tend to slouch and lean their head forward. This is can lead to conditions like forward head posture and slouched shoulders.
Here are a few simple tips for breaking your excessive sitting habit:
- Buy a standing desk
- Walk around while talking on the phone or using your tablet
- Take frequent breaks from sitting where you walk around or perform some stretches
- Limit sitting to 30 minutes at a time (use a timer to keep track)
- Go for extended walks everyday
- Purchase an ergonomic chair and setup your workspace for proper ergonomics
- Swap our your chair for a stability ball
- If watching television, get up and move about during the commercial breaks
Bad Habit #2: Smoking
Smoking is a leading cause of lung cancer and chronic respiratory conditions like emphysema. It can also damage the health of your back and cause back pain.
Smoking can hurt the health of the spine in several ways:
- Impairs blood flow to the spine’s intervertebral discs
Over time, this can affect the performance of your spinal discs and will increase the risk of disc herniation
- Decreased bone density
This can increase the risk of bone fractures and degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis.
- Impairs healing
It takes longer for a smoker to recover from injuries. This is problematic if you are trying to recover from a back injury.
There are entire books and lengthy articles about quitting smoking. The best way to get started is to ask your doctor for advice.
Bad Habit #3: Staring at your phone
Do you spend a lot of time on your mobile phone? You aren’t alone. Most people in the UK are addicted to their phones, which they use for everything from browsing social media and watching movies to buying clothes. Unfortunately, excessive mobile phone use can have a negative impact on the health of your spine.
When people use their mobile phone or tablet, they tend to look down at it. This forces the neck, upper back, and shoulders into an unnatural position. Over time, this can cause postural problems, tight muscles, and back pain.
To deal with this bad habit:
- Limit mobile phone sessions to 15 minutes (use a timer to remind yourself)
- Modify your position so you aren’t constantly looking down
- Send your phone’s signal to another display device, like a television
- Uninstall addictive apps like Facebook and Twitter
- Don’t take your phone to bed
- Turn off push notifications
- Only allow yourself to use your phone during certain hours of the day
- Use airplane mode to switch off distractions
- Replace your phone use with a new hobby or social activity
- Buy a watch so you won’t need to look at your phone to check the time
- Leave your phone at home when you go outside (you might be surprised by how liberating this feels)
Bad Habit #4: Developing poor posture
Poor posture can lead to many health problems including back pain, spinal dysfunction, forward head syndrome, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders, poor digestion, and breathing problems. Fortunately, most postural issues can be corrected.
Our chiropractors at The Spine & Joint Centre can advise you on specific changes you can make to improve your posture. Here are some tips for improving posture:
- Regularly perform stretches to strengthen under-utilised muscles
- Put an app on your phone which reminds you to straighten up your posture
- Try to be mindful of how you position your body
- Make your workspace ergonomic
- Avoid wearing high heels unnecessarily
- Take a closer look at your sleeping posture
- Perform exercises to strengthen your core
Bad Habit #5: Not dealing with stress
Chronic stress can have a significant impact on the health of the spine. It causes unconscious tension which leads to changes in the nervous system. These changes can trigger a constriction of blood flow to soft tissue in the back and persistent muscle tension — leading to back pain.
Fortunately, there are many effective strategies available for reducing stress, including:
- Eating healthy foods (fruit, vegetables, lean protein, nuts, legumes)
- Nutritional supplements
- Laughing (movies, standup comedy, podcasts, sharing jokes with friends)
- Avoiding procrastination
- Chiropractic treatments
If you are suffering back pain our Ealing chiropractors are here to help you. To make an appointment, give our clinic a call on 020 8900 9004.