Do you find it surprising that at any given time 31 million Americans report having low-back pain? These experts also predict that about 80% of Americans will have back problems in their lifetime. In fact, back pain treatment costs about $50 billion in the U.S. each year.
So how can you reduce your risk of back pain? This article will describe methods for increasing lumbar support to decrease back problems. Keep reading to learn about activities and products to improve your low-back health.
Types of Low Back Pain
The medical profession divides back pain into acute and chronic. Acute pain only lasts a few days or weeks. Is often resolves without seeing a physician.
Chronic pain describes back discomfort lasting longer than 11 weeks. About 20% of people who have acute pain go on to later develop chronic pain. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a serious medical problem.
What Causes Low Back Pain?
You may or may not know the specific reason why your back started hurting. There are many different causes of low back pain. Some common reasons include:
- Repeated muscle or ligament strain from heavy lifting or awkward positions or movements
- Poor physical conditioning
- Ruptured or bulging disks between the vertebrae (bones of the spine)
- Injuries such as sprains or strains
- Trauma to the spine
- Breaking down of the discs between the vertebrae (intervertebral disc degeneration)
- Wear and tear on the joints, discs, and bones of the spine (spondylosis)
- Injury, compression, or swelling of the spinal nerves
- Compression of the sciatic nerve causing pain in the buttocks and down the leg
- Slipping of the vertebra which puts pressure on nerves
Several birth defects can also contribute to low-back pain. Scoliosis describes a sideways curve of the spine. Kyphosis appears as a large hump in the upper back.
Lordosis means there is an excessive forward curvature of the lower spine. Spina bifida describes a condition in which the spinal cord is outside of the spinal column.
There are also non-spine related causes of back pain. Examples include kidney stones, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, pregnancy, and tumors.
Risk Factors for Low Back Pain
As we age, our spine experiences the effects of wear and tear. People between 30 and 60 years of age experience more back pain than younger individuals. Genetics can also play a role in back problems such as degenerative disc disease.
Occupations that involve frequent bending and lifting increase the risk of back injuries. Those who stand or sit for a long period can experience back pain as well.
Being overweight and/or having a sedentary lifestyle puts you at increase risk for back pain. These two factors may also be associated with mental health issues. In this case, the person may experience more stress and feel pain more intensely.
Smoking tobacco decreases the blood and oxygen to the discs between the vertebrae. This can lead to more rapid disc degeneration.
Ways to Decrease Back Pain
Taking a proactive approach to preventing back problems will save you time, money, and discomfort. The following tips can help you avoid back pain.
Practice Good Posture
You may hear your mom’s voice in your ear. Yet, this is a big key to avoiding discomfort.
Many people spend a lot of time in front of a computer. This may be in an office or at home.
With more people working from home, they may not be sitting at a traditional desk. This can contribute to poor posture that causes weakened muscles and chronic pain.
Be sure to stretch and change positions throughout the day. Your head should be in an upright position and in line with your shoulders. Avoid sitting in a slouched position.
Adjust Your Screen Height
Your computer monitor should be placed at or a little below eye level. This allows your head and neck to stay in a natural, relaxed position.
If your neck becomes tense, this tightness can spread down your back. Before you know it, your neck, head, and back begin to hurt.
Sit in a Supportive Chair
The fit, height, angle, and low-back support of your chair makes a big impact on your comfort. Ill-fitting chairs lead to discomfort, stiffness, restlessness, and back pain.
Ergonomic chair designs ensure proper back support. They help you sit at the right height related to your work surface. This impacts neck, shoulder, elbow, and back comfort.
Lumbar support keeps the proper natural curve in your low back. Adjustable armrests provide arm support for your elbows and shoulders. These features contribute to good posture while you work.
Take Standing Breaks
It’s important to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. You may want to consider setting a timer to remind you to stop and stand up. Take a couple of minutes to stretch and walk around.
Take deep breaths and consciously feel tense muscles. Focus on those areas and release the tension. This will decrease muscle, joint, and ligament stiffness.
Find Ways to Move Around
If you spend time on phone calls, consider standing or walking if possible. Take a couple of minutes to walk around during restroom breaks. Consider standing during conference calls or virtual meetings.
Wear Backpacks the Proper Way
Backpacks aren’t just for kids anymore. Many people carry backpacks with their computers in them. Wearing and packing a backpack incorrectly can cause back pain.
Always place the heaviest objects in the back. The bottom of the backpack should be at the top of your hips. Always wear the straps on both shoulders and avoid slinging the backpack onto your back.
Use a Supportive Lumbar Pillow
You may ask, “Do I need lumbar support?” Even if you aren’t having back pain, it’s a good idea to use a lumbar support pillow. This can help you avoid back issues by decreasing strain during your work time.
Use Pillows to Improve Rest
Getting enough sleep helps your body, mind, and spirit rejuvenate. Pain and restlessness can interfere with effective rest.
If you experience back pain, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees. This will keep your spine straight and avoid twisting. Often this will release the tension and help you get better sleep.
The Benefit of Lumbar Support for Back Pain
Back pain is a leading cause of decreased work productivity and time away from the job. If you’re not comfortable, it also makes your time working less enjoyable.
Today, you can find a variety of lumbar support cushions and pillows to provide the support you need. Each person’s body is different and thus, it’s important to find the right pillow for you. This can help address a number of spinal issues causing acute to chronic pain.
What to Look for in a Lumbar Support System
So, what should you look for in a lumbar support cushion or pillow? The following provides some tips to help you find the right solution for your needs.
Pure Memory Foam
Pure memory foam is more durable and shapes to match the contours of your body. This molding occurs in response to your body heat. This individualized contouring provides firm support to relieve low back pain.
You will want a lumbar support pillow that’s not attached to the chair. This allows you to use it in the car, on plane trips, or in other settings. You’ll be amazed at how much more comfortable those long car rides become.
Look for a pillow that has two adjustable straps. This allows you to attach it to different sized and shaped chairs. The dual straps keep it more secure, so it won’t slip and fall out of place as you move around.
Choose a pillow that includes a removable hypoallergenic mesh cover. These breathable covers increase your comfort. You can take off the cover and machine wash it to keep it fresh and clean.
Lumbar Support Accessory
In addition to a lumbar support pillow, you’ll want to consider other items to promote good posture. It's often easier to maximize your comfort with a combination of products.
Coccyx Seat Cushion
A memory foam coccyx seat cushion helps adjust the angle of your hips. This affects your spine’s position. It also provides a more comfortable seat for your buttocks.
Adding an adjustable footrest to your work area can greatly increase your comfort and posture. When the edge of the chair presses on the back of your knees, this can interfere with blood flow. Placing your feet on an adjustable or rocking footrest helps increase circulation.
Using a footrest also decreases the temptation to cross your legs or ankles. This practice also impedes the circulation to the lower legs. Decreased circulation can cause swelling in your feet and ankles.
Choosing a footrest that has bumps on it allows you to massage the bottom of your feet while you work. Go ahead. Kick-off your shoes and enjoy the relaxing foot massage.
To maintain proper posture, adjust your seat so that your knees are level with your hips. The knees should not be bent at more than a 90-degree angle. Once again, this can interrupt the blood flow to and from your lower legs.
Avoid dangling your legs. Keeping your feet supported on the floor or a footrest keeps pressure and tension off your spine.
Always choose a work chair with armrests. For proper ergonomic alignment, your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle. They should rest on the arm of the chair so there’s no pull on your shoulders.
If your elbows don’t reach the arm of the chair, you may need additional armrest pads. This keeps your elbow at the proper angle and keeps you from slumping.
Your wrists shouldn’t bend forward or backward when working on the keyboard or with your mouse. Wrist pillows keep your wrists in alignment with your hands and forearms. Maintaining this alignment prevents problems such as ulnar nerve pain, shoulder pain, and wrist pain.
As many as 10 million Americans develop carpal tunnel syndrome due to poor ergonomics. Constant bending of the wrists puts pressure on the nerves and causes this condition. It becomes very painful to type or use a mouse.
Carpal tunnel syndrome often requires surgical repair. This means time away from work for recovery. If the working conditions aren’t adjusted, the problem can recur.
Do your muscles in your back feel tight or knotted during the workday? Have you ever considered getting a massager to relieve the tension? If you’re working from home, you may look for a hand-held massager for your shoulders or low back.
If you’re working in an office setting, that may seem a little odd. So, choose a massage pad that straps on the back of your chair. You can quietly turn on the massaging pad whenever you start feeling uncomfortable.
You may risk the envy of your coworkers, though. So watch your back.
Are You Looking for a Comfort and Support Solution?
If you’re experiencing low-back pain, you know that it impacts all parts of your life. Getting the right lumbar support cushion can help relieve your discomfort. As the article pointed out, you may even want to begin using one before you have pain.
Everlasting Comfort® is an Upper Echelon Products (UEP) brand. UEP manufactures and distributes our products.
Our products include cushions for lumbar support, coccyx back, and butt. We also offer seat, wedge, memory foam, and button back pillows.
In addition to cushions, we provider humidifiers and diffusers. Contact us today to learn more about our products.