If you are like me, getting through the day can be difficult. If it’s not my neck, then it’s my lower back, or arms, or legs. It never stops. Sitting, standing walking, driving, cooking, cleaning- it can all hurt. Here are ways to help ease the pain before it gets too much to bear.
Find the right chair
Many people are stuck in front of a computer for hours at a time. This leads to all sorts of issues. Whether it’s a recliner, high back, stool, ball, or a combination, finding the correct chair for your specific needs can make all the difference. Ensure it’s easy to get into and out of without having to contort in ways that can exacerbate pain. Change positions frequent.
Remember, even a slight flex in the neck can make the head feel quadruple its weight. And slouching increases spinal pressure 190% over standing. Add a lumbar support, even if it’s just a rolled up towel. Couches are great for lying down, but too often lack any real support when sitting. Don’t pivot when reaching for something. Move the entire chair so your body stays stable. Add a step stool to relieve pressure on the hips and knees when needed, and change positions frequently.
When I bought my Lexus years ago, they agreed to alter the headrest because of my specific needs. After 5 levels were fused in my neck, seats that forced my neck into a slightly flexed position, as the newer vehicles require for safety reasons, was not going to work with my underlying anatomy. Under these conditions, I was allowed to have it altered. In another case I had a railing added to an SUV so I could use it as a step up into the vehicle.
If you have special concerns, look into how your vehicle can be changed to make driving easier. Make sure your knees are at, or above, the hips and the seat is close enough to support the spinal curve without compromising space for your knees and feet. Add a lumbar roll. On long trips, take frequent breaks and get out by swinging both legs out at once. Don’t twist.
Make sure your head and neck are neutral, shoulders straight, chest slightly forward, hips slightly back with feet flat on the floor, shoulder wide. Use a step stool to alleviate pressure on one leg at a time, alternating every few minutes. No step stool? Open a cabinet close by and rest your foot inside. Put a padded carpet in the areas where you do the most work like at the kitchen counter, or bathroom sinks. If the counter height is off, add a box to gain just the right elevation. Mine is a wood box a patient made me years ago. It adds the few inches required to keep my arms from aching when inputting on the computer, or cutting vegetables, cleaning dishes, and it always makes me smile when I remember that dear gentleman and his generosity.
Bending and Squatting
These positions are enough to make a grown woman cry! Often, I can circumvent this concern by enlisting a kind soul or using a grabber tool. In other cases, such as checking patient’s lower extremities, using my rolling chair works great. But when none of these are an option, use these techniques:
- face the object
- keep your feet shoulder width apart
- activate your core
- use only your legs to move up and down.
If possible, make sure there’s something close by to grab onto, if a little assistance is needed. Even if it’s just positioning yourself between the item on the floor, and a wall.
It may not seem like a lot but when you realize the little things we do all day long and into the night that can impact our pain it adds up. These simple ideas can make a difference. Next Friday, I’ll share 6 more ways to prevent pain through the day.