Welcome to 2021. To many of us it feels just like a continuation of 2020. While the world around us may feel very much the same, you can make positive changes to take back your year. If you suffer from back and neck pain, here are some steps you can take to reduce your pain in 2021.
- Exercise and stretch more. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day, even activities as simple as walking are beneficial for spine health.
- Improve your posture. Slumping and slouching can increase back pain and forward head posture puts excessive strain on the joints of the neck. Practice proper posture to reduce pain and boost joint health.
- Stop Smoking. Smoking brings with it a long list of adverse health effects, including negative impact on the health of your back and neck. Nicotine not only decreases blood flow to your organs but also to your spine and can worsen an existing condition. If you smoke, you should quit.
- Lose weight. Excessive weight adds significant strain to the spine. By shedding those extra pounds you’ll improve your overall health while also lessening the strain on the joints of your spine.
- Rest and sleep. Try to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Use a good pillow to support your neck and try to sleep on your back or side rather than your stomach. It’s also worth checking to see if it’s time to replace your mattress.
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is a key component of general health and wellness, and that extends to your back and neck.
- Healthy diet = healthy spine. The adage, “you are what you eat” still rings true. If you experience pain, try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet.
- Mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing. Research shows that daily mindfulness meditation, deep breathing and yoga can help reduce pain and muscle spasm.
- Seek treatment. If you have chronic neck and/or back pain that doesn’t improve with lifestyle changes and at-home treatment remedies, contact your health care provider and seek treatment.
David J. BenEliyahu, DC, DAAPM, DABCSP is the Administrative Director of the Back & Neck Pain Center at Mather Hospital.