I live with chronic back pain every single day, and it is on my mind all the time. I try not to let it run (or ruin) my life, but that is really hard for me. I have been through a lot with my back problems, and I don’t want to make my situation worse, so I manage it the best I can.
I have learned a lot over the years, about managing my back pain, from a variety of sources, most recently from my chiropractor. Here are some tips that are helpful for me and I practice every day.
Lift with proper mechanics
When I lift something, I make sure I do so with proper mechanics. I keep my back straight and kneel down using my legs. Even when I get water from the water cooler, I kneel down on one knee, so I am at the proper level and position. As I said, I am very conscious of every move I make.
Park far away from work
I commute about 45 minutes to and from work each and every day, so I park far away from the building, so I get a decent walk in before I get to my desk. This helps to loosen up my legs and lower back a little bit before I start work.
Park close to work
Okay, I have also been on the end of the spectrum where I could hardly walk from the parking lot to my desk. So during that time in my life when I was dealing with a herniated disk and walking was very painful and I parked as close to the building as possible.
Take the stairs
I work on the second floor of my office building, and I always take the stairs to get every last bit of exercise for my legs. This is going to sound really crazy, but I take it slow and make sure that I really focus on using my glutes and hamstrings when I take the stairs. This also helps to save my knees.
Use a sit-stand workstation
These desktop units are all the rage right now. People, like myself, want to stand up during the workday. I use a sit-stand desk every single day, and I don’t know how I would function without it. I alternate my posture throughout the day, by sitting and standing at different intervals. I have even gone so far as to set the alarm, so I get up out of my chair and stand up.
I check my posture all the time
I am continually arching my lower back and checking my shoulders to make sure I am sitting correctly at work, in the car, at home, or wherever else I might be sitting down. I tend to get lazy and slouch, so I find myself arching my shoulders back which helps me to realign.
Get up and move
I have to get up when we are watching movies at home and walk around because it is hard to get comfortable for extended periods of time. Currently, I am dealing with some soreness in my tailbone, so even sitting on the couch for a couple of hours is uncomfortable. I tend to lean to one side and then the other, to help take some pressure off my sore tailbone. This works amazingly well.
I do this a lot at work as well, I have to be on the move, or standing up a lot otherwise I tend to get stiff.
I work out about 5 days per week on average. This doesn’t have to be a gut-wrenching, killer workout, but I will do somethings at home on the days I don’t go to the gym. Even if it’s going for a brisk 30-minute walk with my wife, doing some planks, and stretching, I have to get out and move my body. My hips, glutes, and hamstrings get tight when I don’t exercise, and this is my cue to get back at it.
Also, I start every morning with a routine to help strengthen my core muscles including my butt, hamstrings, upper and lower back. I have learned that exercise for me is such a huge factor in keeping my core and back healthy and happy (mostly).
I do some form of exercise every single day, but it’s not always a hardcore workout. My point is that this really helps me out.
I stretch when I am sitting at my desk at work. As a matter of fact, I have reminders set up on my phone, so I am sure to stretch my problem areas. My favorites are the “figure four” and knee to chest. I do some light hamstring stretching as well. Yes, I get a few funny looks at work, but I don’t really care :).
Ask for help
This has been one of the biggest challenges for me since I am not one to ask for help, especially when it comes to lifting heavy stuff. I have been known to pick up a dryer and move it, although they really aren’t really that heavy, just more awkward than anything. So, for me, my ego was a big hurdle to overcome, but it is such a huge help. Thankfully I have teenagers!!
Drink a lot of water
Our bodies need to be adequately hydrated, and especially the spine. It is critical to making sure you drink enough water. Whenever we move, the disc spaces in your spine are squeezed and lose water. This can lead to pain or lack of mobility. So I make sure I drink a lot of water.
Use an inversion table
I don’t necessarily use my inversion table every day, but I do use it very frequently. This has become an essential part of managing my back problems, and it’s my go-to when I am in pain. It’s not for everyone, but I certainly have benefited from using an inversion table.
Use a seat cushion
I have seat cushions that I use at work and at home. These have a cutout for my tailbone which helps to distribute my body weight evenly away from my tailbone. Using a seat cushion has been a new revelation for me and I am glad I have them.
These are some of the things I do and have learned over the years that help me get through the day as a guy who has been dealing with back problems most of my adult life (about 20 years).
I cannot tell you that I am without pain every day, but I have learned my limits and am very careful no matter what I am doing. I would say that is my number one takeaway is just being cautious. Before I went on a roller coaster, I asked my chiropractor if that is an okay idea (it was okay for me by the way).
But I didn’t ask for permission before I went on water slides with my kids last summer. Yes, I had to think about whether or not a water slide would mess me up. So I am learning what I can and can’t (or shouldn’t) do.
I hope this article has been helpful and maybe you even learned something. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Thanks for stopping by!