Do you drive for a living? Have a long commute to work? Or find yourself bussing the kids around all day? These hours in the car really add up throughout the week, and a lot of people who spend hours in the car suffer back pain! Although you might not be able to change the amount of time in the car, you may be able to tweak a few things to keep you back and body happier during and after your travels! The two most common areas we see strained from driving are the low back (sometimes this can even cause symptoms like tingling, pain or numbness down the legs known as sciatica), and the upper back, neck and shoulders (sometimes this pain also radiates down the arms). Here are a few tips for healthy driving:
Neck, upper back or shoulder strain:
Also, take driving breaks as you’re able to. Sometimes taking a 5 minute break during your drive to stretch out and walk around can make a big difference if your comfort level!
Lastly, stretching your hips, back and shoulders regularly, and exercising the muscles around your hips and spine (back and core muscles) will also help you stay healthy and fend off the aches and pains causes by long amounts of time in a car or truck.
If you’re suffering back or other pain that’s aggrevated by driving, call us and we can take a look at it and build a program for you to combat your pain! 616-662-0990
Sources: Posture Direct: Tips to Improve Your Posture; Cleveland Clinic: Back Health & Posture (2015)
By: Lisa Bartz, Certified Exercise Physiologist (C-EP)
While we may laugh at this old quote from a commercial, the reality of balance problems is becoming significant in our ever-aging population.
Balance problems can occur from a variety of issues including:
- Joint stiffness
- Inner ear problems
- Certain medications
- Lack of activity or sedentary lifestyle
- Simply aging
Balance problems can also be caused by medical conditions such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, cognitive diseases, or diabetes.
Balance issues can also occur when one or more systems in the body are not working properly including: vision, inner ear, muscular system, awareness of your own body position (proprioception).
A person may feel dizziness, instability, vertigo, or a sense that there falling. They may be fine while standing still, but as soon as they move or change position they may suddenly lose their balance. This often causes fear in performing simple daily tasks and causes the person to becomes more and more sedentary. It becomes a vicious cycle of loss of conditioning and decreased activity level.
It is important to identify how your balance issues occur. How often do you have them? What are you doing when you experience them? What medications do you take? Have you had your vision or ear checkup recently? Do you have any other medical conditions or problems?
Physical therapy can offer numerous options for treating balance problems based on each person’s needs. Therapist look at multiple systems of the body including muscles, joints, inner ear, eye tracking ability, skin sensation and positional awareness of the joints. They are experts at prescribing active movement techniques and physical exercise to improve the systems, including strengthening, stretching, proprioception exercises, visual tracking and inner ear retraining.
This can help you reduce fall risks, reduce the fear of falling, improve mobility, improve balance and strength, improve your movements, and increase your activity levels.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
It is not a surprise that when you lack sleep or sleep poorly, you aren’t at your top efficiency for the day. What may surprise you, however, is how much a lack of sleep actually affects your body, your brain, and your skin:
If you don't get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol in excess amounts. Cortisol can break down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic (WebMD).
How much sleep is necessary?
This is a tricky question that varies for everyone, but it is important to talk about. A safe answer is 7-9 hours on average per night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amounts based on age:
By: Rebecca Popma
TIGHT HAMSTRINGS are a common contributor to BACK PAIN!
There are lots of ways to stretch your hamstrings, and here's one:
Find a step or chair to prop one foot up on, and lean forward at the hips, pulling your belly button toward your thigh (not hunching over to bend your back). Lean until you feel a mild to moderate stretch in the back of your thigh, and hold for about 30 seconds on each side.
This may help your low back pain, because your hamstrings affect your pelvis position, and this can put stress on your low back.
Remember, there are LOTS of causes of back pain, so it's always best to get it checked out by a PT or your Dr!).
By: Lisa Bartz, C-EP
Steve Bartz, PT