Welcome to the first post in my brand new 5 ways segment. I thought I’d start simple, though my brain is absolutely bursting with ideas.
Back pain is one of the most comment complaints I hear (especially at work). Along with fatigue, it seems to be one of those things that plagues absolutely everyone. I suppose what’s compelled me to write this piece is that it appears no one is willing to actually address their aches at the source. To beat tough pain, don’t go straight for the Advil. Here are my tips to love and care for your back:
1. Foam Roller: You’ve probably seen this contraption at the gym. It’s great for all sorts of injuries and tightness, but did you know it can help loosen your upper back and shoulders? One more reason I’m sad my sister Rachel isn’t around; there’s no one to crack my back! For that satisfying crunch to release tension, use a foam roller.
*DO NOT use any unfamiliar equipment without consulting a professional. Gym trainers and instructors are happy to help, so have one of them teach you how to use the roller properly. Otherwise consult a physiotherapist!
2. Lighten Your Load: We’ve all been hearing this one since elementary school. Students especially carry way too much heavy stuff. It’s important that your back not be burdened by too much unnecessary weight. So if you’re going out for the day, my suggestion is to carry a small shoulder bag or satchel rather than your heaping handbag with your whole life inside. Really all you need is your phone, wallet and lip gloss, right?
*A tip for dudes: Lucky you that a wallet in the pocket is all you need! Don’t forget to remove wallet and phone from your pockets before sitting down (I know that sounds obvious, but not everyone does it). Sitting for prolonged periods with your wallet in the back pocket is extremely hazardous to your back!
3. Change Your Footwear: I can’t believe how many people out there are killing their backs with bad footwear. This was the first change I made when I was feeling the burden of daily back pain. I probably tried 5 different pairs of work shoes before finding gold. I never thought I’d say it, but I am a convert to the church of Crocs. Nowadays they make simple ballet flats, so you can get away with wearing them to work. They are super supportive, comfortable, and they have done wonders for my lower back. Even if you wear them for the commute, it will help your poor back and feet to relax before you throw on the professional pumps at the office. For guys having issues, they make plenty of feet and back friendly shoes for gents as well. If you aren’t ready to sacrifice a bit of style, perhaps look at investing in some high quality insoles.
4. Double Strap It: This is another change that is so simple I can’t believe everyone hasn’t already done it. I know it can look a bit dorky, but wearing a backpack to work has really helped my upper back and shoulders. Rather than spending significant periods of each day feeling lopsided by a loaded purse or a weighty gym bag, a backpack is big enough to fit everything you need without killing your back. Plus with the free hands, you can hold your umbrella AND text at the same time!
5. Treat Yourself: Regular massage is a great way to care for your back and to release tension. I recommend getting one once a month. If you’re an athlete like me, remedial sports massage or even appointments with the chiropractor can be a great way to recover from training. Massages don’t need to break the bank; check your local Scoopon/Groupon/OurDeal and you’ll find regular posts for discounted treatments.
And there you have it, my 5 tips to love your back. See you soon for the next healthy helping of sound advice!