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Whether you’re in a sedentary position throughout the day or you are active, it’s important to take care of your body throughout the day to avoid posture related pains, stress induced pain, overuse of muscle and joint groups as well as to avoid injury.
From head to toe, below are some tips to prevent the onset of pain.
Muscle strain or pain can occur in various situations from driving in an awkward position, at a desk for long periods of time, lacking proper posture, sleeping positions, overuse of one side of the body, an injury or a trauma.
To avoid pain while driving, maintain good posture. Adjust your seat to a position that allows you to sit upright where you can comfortably see over the dash. Utilize Lombar support to help you maintain your posture and prevent additional strain on your lower back from sitting in an uncomfortable position. If no lumbar support is available, you may opt to use a small, rolled up towel.1
Believe it or not, cruise control allows you to position your feet off the pedals taking pressure off your neck and back.
Be sure to stop the car and take a break every few hours for 10 to 15 minutes.
To avoid pain while sedentary, such as at a desk in an office/home office setting, at a conference or during training, the most important thing to do is get up and move around at every chance you get. If you’re in an office setting and you utilize a printer regularly, be sure to choose a printer or set-up a printer in a location that requires you to take a mini-stroll. Of course, this does NOT mean taking the elevator or stairs to another floor or dilly-dallying (unless of course, your job/position allows you to do so).
There are also many great stationary exercises you can perform from head-to-toe. A variety of exercises are available for viewing and/or download at the end of this article. Be sure to focus on the neck, shoulders, back, wrists (especially if you spend a lot of time on the computer), arms and legs. While you’re at it, feel free to work those abs!
To avoid pain while sleeping, first and foremost it’s all about the mattress. You don’t have to buy the most expensive mattress in the world, it just has to be comfortable to you, so be sure to test it out in person.
Replace your mattress if you regularly wake up tired or achy, you find another bed more comfortable than yours, your mattress is saggy 3, you’ve experienced significant weight loss or gain, you have begun sharing a bed, are experiencing “new” back problems or have become less active 4.
A pillow is just as important as is the placement of the pillow and any additional pillows that may provide you with support for your neck, back or even between the legs/knees.
To read about the best sleeping positions, check out this article. You’ll be surprised!
To avoid overuse of one side of the body, be sure to utilize both shoulders and arms in regular tasks. I’ve found that my left side sometimes exists purely for decoration. Of course, I say that in jest and I do not take it lightly, for those that have lost limbs or movement on one side of their body. With my recent ailments (ganglion cyst, tennis elbow and tendonitis of the neck/shoulder ALL AT ONCE on the right hand side), I’ve come to value my body a whole lot more.
In an effort to reduce the everyday strain on the right side of my body, I’m attempting to teach myself to use my left side more, whether it be carrying my purse on the left hand side, using my mouse as a leftie or even performing simple daily tasks that I would normally perform with my right hand; with my left instead. It is amazing at how my left side of my upper body lacks strength. I’ve even tried to learn to write with my left hand in an effort to ease the pain.
If you’re a parent of a young child, you might find yourself over-loading one side or the other with child and bags galore, or even if you’re carrying groceries you might favor one side over the other. Gradually increasing usage of “the other side” might strengthen your abilities, if you are so fortunate to have that option available.
When faced with the possibility of surgery on my hand, I realized, it’s time to broaden my horizons while I can. My right hand side is likely experiencing strain, because my left side serves little purpose. Whether I have to begin as if I were a young child to train my body to do so, it’s no matter. I’d rather do so than potentially have to exist with my only functioning arm in a cast, especially if I have a choice.
WHAT IS PROPER POSTURE?
We’ve all heard the phrase “sit up straight”. When I tell myself to sit up or stand up straight, I find myself in the most awkward, uncomfortable, seemingly unnatural positions. However, when I find myself in pain from improper posture I constantly find myself reverting to those same positions. As adults, have we forgotten what exactly proper posture is without a teacher or parent reminding us?
To learn more about proper posture requirements while standing, sitting, driving, lifting or even sleeping, following this link for more information.
DOWNLOADS & LINKS
Neck Exercises: A full set of neck exercises that aide in maintaining your neck’s flexibility as well as maintaining or regaining your neck’s range of motion. These exercises can be done virtually anywhere at any time (except WHILE DRIVING!!). Click here to download in PDF format.
Herbal Ease Neck Pillow by Tara Spa Therapy: This is an AMAZING neck pillow featuring aromatherapy for relief from stress and tension and to enhance relaxation. It can be heated or used cold. My mother has owned one of these for about 10 years now and it’s still kicking with the aromatherapy benefits as well as it’s ability to be heated in the microwave.
The above tips are not intended to replace advice from a medical professional, however the following references are cited:
1 How To Prevent Neck Pain When Driving: http://www.ehow.com/how_6174130_prevent-neck-pain-driving.html
2 General Stretching Exercises for Office Workers: http://www.livestrong.com/article/345087-general-stretching-exercises-for-office-workers/
3 Q&A: How often should I buy a new mattress? http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2007/12/mattress-rating.html
4 How often should I replace my mattress? http://www.sleeptrain.com/replacing-your-mattress.aspx