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  • Carol Michaels

How to Avoid Neck and Back Pain

Texting and hours of sitting in front of the computer is causing a head forward posture, also called text neck. The effects of chronic forward head and neck postures are long-term and may result in muscle strain, disc herniation, nerve impingement, and the early onset of arthritis in the joints of the neck. Forward head posture is strongly linked to decreased respiratory muscle strength and breathing ability, which results in up to a 30% loss in vital capacity in the lungs as well as a significant increase in cardiac and vascular pressure. Forward head posture results in an increase in discomfort and pain, due to disrupted proprioceptive and sensory input from the first four cervical vertebrae. This results in loss of balance and coordination, along with and increased probability of sustaining a fall especially as we age.

If you are sitting for long periods of time, make sure to take a break every half hour and do a few stretches.

Neck Rotation

Slowly inhale and turn your head over the right shoulder. Hold and slowly exhale, then return your head back to center. Do the same on the left side.

Backward Shoulder Roll

Raise your shoulders up toward your ears, while inhaling slowly for 5 seconds. Slowly roll your shoulders backward and press them all the way back down, while exhaling slowly for 5 seconds. Increase the size of the circle with each roll.

VW Stretch

Stand with your back to the wall and your elbows bent to form a “W” with palms facing forward. While keeping your shoulders and arms flat against the wall, slowly slide your arms up the wall until they form a “V”. Inhale for 5 seconds as you slide your arms up the wall, and exhale for 5 seconds as you slide them back down to the “W” position.

Back pain develops for many reasons, including lifestyle, genetics, ergonomics, sports injuries, or unknown reasons. Of all the therapies that are available for back pain, exercise is the only one with consistent evidence that it works. While we still need more research to determine if one type of exercise program is measurably better than others, it has once again been confirmed- exercise helps. If we begin and stick with an exercise program, we might avoid a recurrence, according to a new comprehensive scientific review of back pain prevention. The study concluded that if someone with a history of back pain exercised in a regular way, he or she was considerably less likely to be felled by more back pain within a year.

We are always told to strengthen our core when we suffer from back pain. There is a debate on which muscles are part of the core but in general the “core” includes any muscle that attaches to the low back or pelvis and can effect stability of or movement of the trunk.

Unfortunately, some of us are not told to strengthen our butt muscles. Poor gluteal strength is the cause of much of our back, hip, and knee pain. The gluteal muscles help to support the entire body and when it they are weak, it places too much stress on other body parts. This makes sense since this is a huge muscle group. Strong gluteals can also act as a shock absorber, which may reduce pain and injuries.

So many of us are inactive and may sit for hours on end. Long periods of sitting only weakens the gluteals and tightens the hip flexors. A good strength-training program should include strengthening exercises for the gluteals along with the core.

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