Monthly Archives: April 2016

Better Desk Habits for a Better Back

If you work in an office today, it probably means most of your day is consumed looking at your computer responding to emails. Maybe, you get to stroll to the conference room and sit in a meeting for a few hours. You might even have to gather around that futuristic looking speaker phone for a bi-coastal conference call. But, it is likely that 90% of your day in your office is spent in a chair. I bet you’re in that chair reading this right now, aren’t you? There is wonderful chair technology and advanced ergonomics has helped keep us more comfortable as we sit at our desk. But, even the most expensive, most advanced chair can’t overcome the negative impact that sitting most of your day can have on your back. Incorporating these simple techniques can help take the strain off of your back throughout the day and help prevent pain and stress on your spine.

First, let’s talk about the danger of sitting for the bulk of your day. It has been discovered that women who sit for 11 or more hours a day saw a 12% increase in their risk of death. These risks include back and spine injury, bone deterioration, leg circulation disorders and colon cancer. Being sedentary can lead to cardiovascular disease and obesity. But, the solutions to sitting is easy. Incorporating these simple techniques can help take the strain off of your back throughout the day and help prevent pain and stress on your spine.

1. Consider a new desk
Look at switching out a traditional desk for an adjustable one that can be used both sitting and standing. The alternative to sitting all day is not standing all day, but taking breaks from sitting. An adjustable desk can give you the option to stand for a period of time to break up being in that seat for hours at a time. Ideally, you’d be able to avoid being in one position – sitting or standing – for an extended period of time.

2. Get creative with moving around
If it’s not in the budget for a new desk, make sure you are taking regular breaks to stand up and stretch those legs. Schedule a walking meeting with colleagues in your office. If you are on the phone, take it wirelessly and walk around. Make sure you are getting enough water and walk to refill your glass every hour. Maybe park a little farther away than usual. Take the stairs when you can. Just make sure that every 1-2 hours, you are giving your body a break from sitting.

3. Sit properly
We know you can’t get around sitting at a desk or in a meeting. But, when you are sitting, remind yourself of your posture to help relieve too much stress on your spine. Avoid slouching your shoulders. Try to keep you computer’s monitor at eye-level so you don’t strain your neck.

4. If you can’t stand, stretch
We know that walking around might not always be practical. If you are tied to your cubicle, you can incorporate these “deskercises” to stretch and warm up those muscles when a standing break isn’t in the cards. http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/deskercise

In an optimal world, we have the perfect balance of sitting and standing breaks. Time to walk and stretch. Time for lunch. Just time! However, we know that if you are a desk warrior, sometimes you are bound to sitting for hours at a time. If you are able to incorporate a few of these healthy habits, your back and your body will thank you. We’re always happy to talk to you if you have questions about how you can keep your back healthy at your desk!

Better Sleep for a Better Back

We often don’t have questions about “how to sleep”, but we’ve all wondered how to get better sleep, or perhaps, how to make sleep more productive.  Those 8 hours a night are necessary for your body to rest, refuel and recharge for the next day.  Without a healthy sleep, your memory, productivity, immune system, mood, cognition and overall health are impacted.  Sleep could be considered THE most important thing to keep you healthy.  So, how can you improve your sleep to help keep your spine and mind healthy.

If you have difficulty falling asleep, you might try some of these tips:

1)    Exercise

a.     Working out can lead to better sleep.  But, be careful, don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion or injury.

2)    Take note of your temperature

a.     Your body’s temperature drops when it wants you to sleep.  If you keep a log of your temperature throughout the day, it may tell you a better time to fall asleep and when to wake up.

3)    Put that phone down.

a.     The blue light emitted from your phone can keep your brain alert well past a time it should be resting.  If you need your phone at night, try using an app that will filter out that light and change your screen settings for a softer glow at night.

4)    Avoid stimulants and food before bedtime.

a.     Digestion and caffeine can disrupt your body’s sleep cycle.

Once you become a pro at falling asleep and staying asleep, you might consider these tips to help your sleeping time become more productive for your back’s health:

1)    Have a mattress that is comfortably supportive.

a.     It should be flexible enough to conform to your body’s shape while also being supportive.  Consider replacing your mattress every 8-12 years.

 

2)    Sleep on your back or side

a.     These positions help your neck and spine fall into their natural alignment.  You can relieve additional pressure on your back by placing a pillow under your knees.  If you sleep on your side, make sure your head, neck and shoulders are aligned with your spine.  Sleeping on your stomach is not recommended.

 

3)    Find the right pillow

a.     Just like your mattress, your pillow is important for your neck and spine’s alignment.  You don’t want it so fluffy that it throws your head forward while on your back or too soft so that it doesn’t cradle your head while on your side.

I’m sure we’ve all experience either short or long periods of elusive sleep.  It can make us feel temporarily groggy, but the long-term effects can have an impact on our back, our mind and our immune system.  Improving sleep habits can make you feel better overall.  Implementing new habits can help relieve back pain and make your mental focus more sharp.  Basically, you can’t go wrong with a good night’s sleep!  If you have questions about the best sleep practices for your back, please talk with your Nebraska Spine Hospital Doctor!

Everyday Habits for a Healthier Spine

Everyday Habits that help Prevent Back Injury

 Each morning we have a routine.  It might include starting off with a hot shower or firing up that coffee maker.  Our routines continue throughout the day: we take the same route to work, lunch at noon, favorite TV program at 9:00 and then off to bed.  Once you get into a routine, these simple easy things can become healthy habits.  Have you ever considered incorporating some new activities into your daily routine to help prevent back pain?  Here are some quick and easy ways to help prevent pain and injury.

 1)    Wear your seatbelt!

a.     If you are in an accident, even a very minor one, seatbelts and airbags can protect your spine from injury or damage.  Wearing a seatbelt lowers your risk of injury by 50% in a crash.

2)    Strengthen those bones!

a.     Calcium can help strengthen your bones and vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium more effectively.  Increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake can help prevent osteoporosis.   Easy ways to get calcium are in milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, leafy greens or a daily supplement.  So, instead of that bagel for breakfast, think of rotating in some eggs or yogurt!

3)    Give your back a break when you sleep

a.     Sleeping with pillows under your knees helps relieve some of the pressure your back.  Training yourself to sleep on your side or stomach can also ease the pressure on your back.

4)    Improve your posture!

a.     Check your posture every so often.  If you find yourself slouching, straighten up!  Good posture looks good and helps keep your spine healthy.  Bad posture puts unnecessary strain and stress on your back.  Slouching, hunching or bending improperly can do great harm to your back.

5)    Move that body!

a.     At work or social gatherings, make sure you are not sedentary in one position for too long.  Sitting or standing in the same place can put pressure on your spine.  Even beyond that, incorporating a workout routine of exercise or stretching can improve your back and spine health immensely.

These activities are simple and quick, yet effective to prevent back injury and improve the health of your spine.  Any pain or injury can keep you away from your normal day, so do your best to avoid them!  If you have questions on these or other great ways good habits to work into your day, please feel free to contact us.