The doctors of Dallas-based Lumin Health™ say that back and neck pain are common due to factors like stress, improper body mechanics and wearing the wrong kind of shoes. However, each doctor below offers a few simple exercises, which can go a long way towards reducing pain and every day discomfort.
Dr. Douglas Won, president and CEO of Lumin Health and founder and director of its affiliate SpineCARE™:
“When stressed, people tend to tighten their muscles, and that constant tightness can cause pain. In addition, over stressed people spend a lot of time doing things they may not usually do – like standing a lot while cooking, lifting heavy packages or moving furniture around. Our muscles aren’t used to that, which can lead to back and neck pain, but if you practice good body mechanics, it can help prevent pain and serious injury.”
To improve body mechanics, Dr. Won suggests maintaining good posture, pushing heavy objects across the floor instead of pulling or lifting them, placing bulky items from the grocery store in a shopping cart instead of carrying them, limiting the weight of purses that are carried on the shoulder, and most importantly – stretching.
“Stretching before and after any activity can be extremely helpful in maintaining good spinal health,” notes Dr. Won. “Basic techniques are a good place to start. These may include shoulder rolls, neck rolls, ankle rolls, leg lifts and similar stretches.”
Dr. Samantha Traylor, a SpineCARE chiropractor, suggests these techniques to further reduce neck stiffness and pain:
“Everything is connected, so when your neck is stiff it can affect other areas of your body, making you feel pain there too. Fortunately there are a lot of exercises to help stretch your neck and relieve stiffness. A good one is scapular retraction neck flexion, which is easy to do,” says Traylor.
The exercise can be done while sitting or standing. Take an elastic band, like a TheraBand™, that can be found in most sporting goods stores. Hold it in both hands and stretch it in front of the chest.
“When you feel resistance, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold. This increases the resistance. While you’re squeezing your shoulder blades together, you move your head up and down like you’re saying yes to someone. Shake your head up and down ten times,” explains Traylor. “At first, you may experience some soreness in your neck and upper back from these exercises. Soreness is good, it means the muscles are working and it’s just something they haven’t done in a while. If you have a lot of soreness, apply heat to the affected area for 20 minutes on and then an hour-and-a-half off.”
Dr. Nere Onosode, a foot and ankle surgeon with Lumin Health’s affiliate OrthoCARE™, highlights another good stretch that can be done to help relieve back and neck pain is heel raises/toe stretches:
“You can do heel raises/toe stretches while you’re standing in line at the store or cooking at the kitchen counter. They’re easy to do and relieve not only back, neck and leg pain but also can help with balance and posture,” notes Dr. Onosode. “Plus, they’re fairly subtle, so it’s something you can do in public without everyone around you noticing.”
When shopping or participating in other strenuous activities that require a lot of standing, Dr. Onosode also recommends that people wear comfortable shoes with proper arch support. He says to look for a semi-rigid shoe with a wide toe box and to avoid high heeled shoes and flats. High heeled shoes crowd the toes and put most of the body weight on the forefoot, which can lead to chronic pain and discomfort. Flats do not provide adequate arch support and can lead to pain spanning the entire foot and ankle.
When looking to treat mild to moderate pain, consider advice from The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and go topical. Salonpas, the leaders in topical OTC medicines, has a full line of patches, gels, sprays and liquids.