I’ve briefly mentioned in prior posts of the back pain I’ve suffered for over a decade now. I’ve learned that living, managing, and hopefully alleviating the discomfort involves more than a pill or a stretch, or rest, or therapy. For me it has been all these things and few other lesser tried options, acupuncture being one.
While living with this pain over the years, I picked up on a few life hacks along the way that have certainly helped minimize discomfort and also provide for more pain free days. Perhaps the easiest and most impactful of these life hacks was to stop sitting on a chair at my desk at work. Ask your employer for a standing desk, most are pretty generous about promoting general ergonomics for employees. Don’t like to stand all day? Try a kneeling chair, or sit on an exercise ball. In the last 3 years I switched from a standing desk to an exercise ball and have maintained minimal to no pain on most days, similar in comparison to standing.
If you go the exercise ball route, there are a few quick and simple things to remember:
1. Exercise balls come in different sizes. Let the good people at Thera-Band help you pick the right size.
2. Inflate properly. Don’t inflate to maximum pressure unless you really need to. The more inflated, the higher you will sit. Inflate to a pressure such that your knees and hips create a 90 degree angle when seated, and that your elbows are at desk level.
3. Get really good at explaining to your co-workers that you are conquering your back pain and getting an all day core workout every time they stop in to mock your innovative genius.
Exercise balls can also be paired with a rolling base which allows you to move about your desk area if you so choose.
A few other tweaks you can try:
- Drive a lot? Try adjusting your seat for a more healthy posture. Use lower lumbar support if built in.
- Get better sleep. Try a contoured neck pillow to help with neck and upper back pain, or a pillow between your knees if you’re a side sleeper.
- Stretch. Try various lower back stretches, and be disciplined about it. Don’t do it once for 17 seconds and expect a miracle. Do them daily, spend about 15 minutes, and be prepared to keep at it for at least 2 months.
- Sometime’s life is heavy. So try to drop a few pounds in a healthy way and see if it helps with reducing back pain.
Don’t let the fact that you’ve been pain for so long be an indicator that you’ll be in pain forever. In most cases, with persistence and time, pain and discomfort associated with back pain can be reduced.