Popular wisdom says that the human body is wise. When something’s not okay, our body has its own way of letting us know. It sends us signs or, in other words, symptoms to make sure we do something about it. For instance, you could have a headache and when going to the doctor you find out that it’s due to a contracture or cervical problems. Many people often complain about this, but don’t do anything to get to the root of the problem and fix it. So the first step is to locate and treat the areas where we feel discomfort. But then, it’s essential to try to prevent certain movements or practices that might have caused that pain in the first place.
So Bright Side wrote an article to raise awareness about how some of the things we do every day could be causing us pain. Keep in mind that if you suffer from any type of pain, you should go to a doctor and get checked out.
1. Having poor posture in front of your laptop when working
When we spend a lot of time sitting with our back arched or adopt an outward shoulder position and hunched back, we can develop low back pain and pain around the central area of the back. In addition, it is very common to feel discomfort in the neck or upper part of our shoulders, as our neck has to deal with prolonged tension when we look straight at a screen for hours.
- The right way to sit: Keep your shoulders relaxed and your elbows resting on your body. Let your back rest completely on the back of the chair. Also, adopt a 90° to 100° angle at your hips and also at your knees. You should not bend your legs at the height of your hips or have your feet in the air. You can place the upper part of the laptop screen within reach of your horizontal line of sight, so that your neck does have to make so much effort.
2. Lifting objects off the ground with a bowed back
We don’t really stop and think about it, so we don’t realize it, but when it comes to lifting weight it is very likely that we are not doing things correctly. Think of when you need to pick up a box from the floor. Of course, the first thing to take into account is whether you have enough strength or training to lift a certain amount of weight. Doing the wrong movement or overestimating our capacity to lift a heavy object could lead to serious back injuries. But besides that, one of the most important factors to consider is to not bend your back or your waist when exerting such an important effort.
- The right way to lift up an object: Spread your legs and bend your knees, as if you were going to do a squat. Tighten your abdomen as you hold the object, keeping it as close to your body as possible, and using the muscles of your hips and knees. Proceed with your back straight at all times, performing the squatting movement without twisting the spine forward.
3. Sleeping face down
Sleep is one of the most important things we do in our day (or night). It’s one of the only activities that the body uses to repair itself and prepare to perform the many functions we require of it every day. Many of us love to do this lying face down in bed, but actually, this position could lead to health complications. That’s because by lying face down, we’re forcing our neck and jaw to be in an unnatural position. Ultimately, this could lead to muscular damage, neck pain, or even torticollis.
- Recommendation: To get rid of this bad habit, we can lie face down until we are about to fall asleep. From then on, we can change our position to lying upward or on our side. In order not to wake up again the same way, we can place a pillow beside us and cuddle it during the night to avoid returning to any incorrect posture while we sleep.
4. Carrying your backpack or purse on one shoulder only
When we carry a backpack or a purse on just one shoulder, our body tends to balance that weight with the other side of our trunk. That’s why this practice could cause contractures and neck pain, especially if the weight we’re carrying is heavy or if we don’t change the weight to the other shoulder from time to time. The difficulties can be aggravated if we have a sedentary or inactive lifestyle, since our body cannot assume an overload due to a lack of resistance in the muscles.
- The correct way to carry weight: Prioritize what you want to carry in your bag and shift the load from one shoulder to the other so as not to unbalance the impact of the weight on your body. If you are carrying a backpack, you should choose to put the heaviest things at the bottom and the lightest things at the top so you don’t damage your neck with the movement.
5. Walking around while looking down at a phone
It’s a simple fact that today, most of us walk around looking at our smartphones. It’s becoming increasingly common now that smartphones are pretty much useful for everything we do. But if we could just walk in someone else’s shoes and see ourselves doing this, we could clearly see that our necks and backs are paying the toll for it. To achieve the proper dynamic posture, our spine needs to be in an optimal position. Otherwise, it’s likely to wear out and make us lose both our balance and the correct way to move our joints. That is, of course, on top of the possible injuries or muscle pain we may develop if we get used to doing this.
- The correct way to maintain good posture: Do some type of exercise that strengthens the muscles of the back, pelvis, and abdomen. Also, maintaining a healthy weight is key to avoiding back problems. Try to avoid very high and uncomfortable heels and make sure the things you commonly look at or use are at an appropriate height.
6. Driving with your elbow out the window or with the seat too far back
The repetition of a particular movement over time, especially one that involves repetitive motions that put stress on the tendons, can result in an injury. Think about, for example, when you’re driving and you rest your arm out the window of the car instead of using the armrests. Your arm might be reaching out of its socket. The same could happen if your seat is too far back. You’ll force your elbow or shoulder into an unnatural position, which could lead to developing tendonitis.
- Recommendation: Reduce any type of activity that can cause pain in your joints. If that’s not possible, try to relax your joints by combining this activity with lower impact exercises, like biking or swimming. Of course, don’t forget to do some stretching after each activity. It goes without saying that you should pay attention to and correct any wrong posture you have when driving or performing other tasks that involve using your joints.
7. Sitting down when you still have your wallet in the back pocket of your pants
When you don’t sit in the right position, the first part of your body that could suffer the consequences is the ipsilateral sciatic nerve. That’s the nerve that connects your legs to your spine. Well, sometimes this type of damage is inflicted when performing the most common actions in our everyday life and we don’t even realize it’s happening. A classic example of that would be sitting in a chair with a wallet in our back pocket. This habit, besides being uncomfortable, could lead to intense pain in the sciatic nerve, which connects the spinal cord to the outer thigh. If this issue isn’t corrected in time, this condition could become permanent.
- Recommendation: Make sure you sit properly, with nothing in your pockets and with your feet on the ground. Do not put your legs under your buttocks.
8. Crossing your legs for an extended period of time
When we sit down, many of us cross our legs without even realizing we are doing it. What’s even worse is that we might spend a whole working day doing this. As comfortable or fancy as that might seem, crossing your legs for long periods of time is one of the main causes that could lead to spider veins or varicose veins (which, besides being an aesthetic “problem,” could lead to more serious conditions). Crossing your legs could also make you more prone to developing blood clots. These, in turn, can seriously damage tissue or harm the sciatic nerve and its branches, among other complications.
- Recommendation: Keep your legs parallel at all times. Your feet should always have some sort of support, be that the floor or some other object. Your back should always be straight.
9. Cleaning glass and other surfaces
If something has become clear after reading some of the points we mentioned earlier that’s that you have to pay attention to how you perform some motions in your day-to-day life. When cleaning windows, for example, we might overwork our wrists. This could contribute to the development of an injury, either from a sudden impact or from stress. This means that we may be unable to move our hand or wrist if complications arise.
- Recommendation: Develop strong bones with an adequate calcium intake and avoid falling as much as possible. When making repetitive movements, take breaks every now and then, or as much as possible.
Do you feel pain somewhere in your back? Do you have any tricks that soothe your joints when you work long hours? Share them with us in the comments.