A frequent complaint is people cannot sleep at night because of back pain.
Often this is due to sleeping with a broken down, old mattress. Typically after about 10 years mattresses tend sag more do not offer the right amount of support. If this is your mattress consider purchasing a new mattress. According to Consumer Reports, conventional inner-spring mattresses, foam mattresses and air mattresses like Select Comfort mattresses all can provide good and adequate support. Their findings show that the key to long-term success of a mattress, is how much time you spend in the show room testing the mattress you eventually purchase. The more time you put into selecting a mattress in the showroom, the better likely you will satisfied with that purchase.
Another consideration is in what position you sleep at night. Specific sleeping positions will react differently to various problems people have in their backs.
For example, elderly people with arthritis in the spine often do not tolerate lying on their stomachs because it tends to extend their back. If that is the only way you can typically sleep, you may want to place a pillow under your abdomen to try to reduce the amount of arch your back.
Some people will have pain lying on their backs. These individuals could try placing a pillow under their knees to try to take some pressure off of their spine.
Side sleepers will often try putting a pillow between their knees to relieve their symptoms.
If these don’t work, you can try to sleep on a recliner chair. The amount of reclining can be adjusted by the position of the chair or propping pillows in various places to adjust for optimal comfort.
Finally consider the pillow you’re using. Too high or too low for pillow can put your spine in a compromise position affecting a good night sleep. Experiment with not only the height of the pillow but the amount of support put through your neck. Often rolling up a small towel and placing it in your pillowcase with the roll nearest your neck and away from your head can give support for your neck when in side-lying or laying on your back. Many stores sell orthopedic pillows, which provide an extra amount of neck support.
If all else fails, see a physical therapist or your physician for ideas or options available to you to rehabilitate your situation.
By: Steve Bartz, PT
Frequently, I get asked what’s the best form of exercise. What should I do? Should I buy a bike or a treadmill? Should l lift weights or swim? There is no one best answer. It depends on the person. Ask yourself these questions before investing in exercise equipment or a gym membership:
1. What is my reason for exercising? Do you want to loose weight, get stronger or train for something? Everybody has a different reason and its important to tailor your program to your goals.
2. How much money are you willing to invest in your exercise? Some gym memberships can be expensive, but some offer classes or services like child care that might make working out easier for you. Some pieces of exercise equipment can also be very expensive. If you’re looking to not spend much, there are a lot of inexpensive ways to work out that are easily accessible to everybody.
3. What exercise do I ENJOY doing? Believe it or not, this is by far the most important. If you don’t like what you are doing, chances are you won’t continue to do it. Everybody has different activities that they enjoy. Even if you don’t love it, which form of exercise fits you the best?
4. Am I self-motivated or do need to be accountable to somebody? This could be in the form of a trainer or a friend you exercise with. Some people like to exercise by themselves. Others need the push of a partner or somebody to help keep them on track.
The important thing to remember is there is a type of exercise out there for everybody. It does matter if your young or old, have a lot of cash to spend on exercise or minimal, there is a form of exercise that’s right for you. If you have more specific question ask your local therapist. Exercise is our area of expertise and we would be happy to give you some guidance and answer any questions. Finally, remember the most important thing: If you like the form of exercise you choose you will have a great chance for success!
By: Brian Colvin, PT
Often people will attend physical therapy with their own ideas of what they need to do in order to improve. I once had a 15 y/o female with complaints of neck pain and stiffness.
She had been attending sessions for chiropractic manipulation for the last several years prior to trying physical therapy. Her main complaint during our initial conversation was that her neck was stiff; that she always felt the need to “crack it” to loosen it up. Therefore I expected her to have a very stiff neck with limited mobility.
However, when I checked her range of motion, she had the most motion of any patient that I had ever evaluated! She could sit in a chair and turn her head so far that she could almost look behind her! The result of excessive manipulation was excessive mobility, but without stability. Her problem was not that her neck was stiff, but that it was excessively mobile and needed muscular support.
Conversely, I have had patients who were extremely strong and had excellent muscle tone, but were unbelievably stiff, lacking mobility in order to move normally.
Our goal in physical therapy is to develop an optimal balance of strength and stability. People need to have good range of motion in their joints, flexibility in their muscles, and strength in their muscles in order to have the body function at peak performance. A good physical therapist is able to evaluate these areas and prescribe the necessary corrective measures to achieve this optimal balance of mobility and stability.
By: Mason Riegel, PT
4 out of 5 Americans will deal with low back pain at some time in their lives! There are lots of different causes for it, and successful treatments for low back pain can vary from one individual to the next, depending on what’s causing it.
Here are a couple tips to prevent low back pain:
1. Posture – you’ve heard it a million times: resist slouching! When you’re in a chair, slide your hips and low back as far back as possible. This will help your spine be in its natural-curve position. If you have a desk job, stand up and take breaks from sitting every hour.
2. Core – what does your core routine look like now? (This one is for everyone who answers nonexistent!) Incorporate planks, bird-dogs, and glute-bridges into your routine. Strengthening the muscles around your spine/low back, like your erector spinae, abs and glutes, will provide support and strength to your back. Remember to keep your core engaged in all your upper and lower body exercise, too.
3. Hip Flexibility – tight hamstrings can actually cause low back pain! Stretch them out by laying on the floor by a wall corner, and putting one leg up against the wall. Or you can reach down and touch your toes! There are lots of ways to stretch out your hamstrings, find your favorite one and do it 3x a week for a minute on each side!
If you currently have low back pain, whether it’s all the time or in certain positions, give us a call. We do free consultations to set up a plan to help you with your low back pain. Back pain is the most common thing we treat here at Hudsonville Physical Therapy and we’d love to help you move past your back pain!
Call us: 616-662-0990
By: Lisa Bartz, Exercise Physiologist (C-EP)
Sources: American Council on Exercise, Spine Health: Tips to Protect Your Lower Back (2016), UNC School of Medicine: Chronic Low Back Pain on the Rise (2009)
Steve Bartz, PT