The following articles were authored by Relax The Back

Sciatica Relief: Is The Cold Making Your Pain Worse?

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SciaticaDuring the winter months, do you often find that your pain worsens as the temperatures drop? People who suffer from sciatica may notice that pain seems to worsen in the cold and a recent study has found that these feelings are more than anecdotal.

Sciatica is a term used to describe symptoms caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve. This nerve begins in your lower spine, traveling down under your buttocks, and through your hips into each foot. Colder temperatures cause muscles to tighten and become tense due to a decrease of blood flow. Stiff muscles, especially those in the low back and sciatic nerve area, can lead to muscle strains and pains.

Sciatica Symptoms

Common sciatica symptoms may include the following:

  • Pain varying from mild aches and tingling to sharp, burning sensations that occur in one leg.
  • Numbness in parts of the leg and hip
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain triggered by prolonged sitting or standing
  • Worsening pain from coughing or sneezing
  • Pain beginning in the lower back or buttocks and continuing down the back of the thigh into the lower leg or foot.

Reduce Sciatic Pain

If the cold is causing you pain and discomfort, find relief with these tips:

  • Hold/Cold Therapy: Try icing the area for the first 48-72 hours, followed by a period of heat to relieve pain and tension where you need it most.
  • Stay Active: While we often want to stay indoors during the winter, make sure to maintain a regular exercise routine. Staying active helps keep sciatica pain away by relaxing away muscle stiffness and increasing circulation.*
  • Stretch: Simple, gentle stretches done daily will help keep your muscles loose and warm. Try an Inversion Therapy Table to find relief at home.*
  • Sleep well: Find total comfort with a Bed Wedge System. A bed wedge will provide support and reduce excessive pressure on your spine and sciatic nerve to help you sleep easier.

*Be sure to talk with a medical professional before starting any new exercise routines. 

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need: Revisited

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While many of us know the importance of a good night’s sleep, far too few of us actually make it a priority. Sleep is essential to our overall health and well-being and the amount of sleep one needs varies from person to person.

The National Sleep Foundation put together a list of questions to help assess how you feel after different amounts of sleep:

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy when driving?

It’s important to determine the amount of sleep that works for your individual needs.

Sleep Recommendations

The NSF worked with eighteen leading scientists and researchers to put together the best recommendations and guidance for sleep duration and health. Since sharing their most recent findings with you last year, they have updated their recommendations to provide variability in appropriate sleep durations.

Take a look at the infographic below to see your recommended sleep time. Are you getting the proper amount of sleep?

Visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists who can help you be on your way to a better night’s sleep.
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need

Is Back Pain Keeping You Up at Night?

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Sleeping with back pain

When you have throbbing back pain, sleep may seem like an impossible feat. Aches and discomfort not only prevent you from falling asleep but they also make it difficult to stay asleep. If you are one to lose sleep due to pain, you are not alone. Two out of three people with chronic pain have trouble sleeping, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

While there is no universal sleep position to alleviate pain, there are a number of positions that can help you rest easy. A general rule to follow is to listen to what your body is telling you. Try out different positions until you find one that relieves the most pain.

Sleep Positions To Relieve Back Pain

  • Side Sleepers: Sleeping on your side allows your spine to elongate, which helps prevent back and neck pain. Placing a pillow between your knees, such as the ContourSleep Knee Spacer, will add additional spinal support. When your spine is in a natural, ergonomic position, tense muscles begin to relax, hip, leg, and joint pain is decreased, and circulation is improved throughout the night.
  • On Your Back: While this may not be the most popular sleep position, only 8% of people sleep on their backs, it is the healthiest option for most. Sleeping on your back allows your spine, head, and neck to rest in a neutral posture. If you are experiencing lower back pain, try a Bed Wedge System or an adjustable base. These will help maintain the natural curve of your lower back and provide great support while in bed, reading, or just relaxing. A small, rolled up towel placed under the small of your back will provide additional support.
  • On Your Stomach: This position can lead to pain throughout the night, as it is difficult to keep your spine in a neutral position. If you must sleep on your stomach, you can reduce strain on your back by placing a pillow under your lower abdomen and pelvis. As with any sleep position, be sure to choose a pillow that reduces strain on your back and neck.

A key element of a good night’s rest is a sleep environment that promotes comfort and relaxation. Be sure to visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists. They can help you find the perfect pillow and mattress for your specific needs.

Further Reading:

Why You Should Start Walking

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While we all know the importance of exercise, nearly 80% of Americans are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity. As a society that is working and sitting in front of a screen more than ever, a big part of staying healthy depends on setting aside time in our days to be active.

Studies have shown that moderate physical activity and walking for at least 30 minutes a day has numerous benefits. If getting into a fitness routine was on your New Year’s Resolution list, start with walking! It is one of the simplest ways to get into and continue a routine. Not only is walking great for your heart, it also helps to boost energy levels and strengthen joints.

Take a look at the infographic below to see even more health benefits of walking:

Why You Should Start Walking

5 Reasons to Love Zero Gravity

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Zero Gravity

When our bodies are properly aligned, our bones, rather than our muscles, support our weight. Reclining to a Zero Gravity position allows for our bodies to reach this state. Developed by NASA, the Zero Gravity, or “neutral position”, concept takes stress off of your spine by elevating your feet to the same height as your heart. Investing in back-friendly products and furniture that promote a neutral posture will improve back health and provide significant relief.

For more benefits, take a look at these 5 reasons to love Zero Gravity:

  1. Correct Spinal Support: Unnecessary strain and discomfort is avoided when our spine is properly aligned and supported. Zero gravity minimizes strain on your spine, muscles, and ligaments.
  2. Back Pressure Relief: By raising our feet to the same level as our heart, our spine is able to decompress to align in a natural S-shaped curve. This reduces tension in your lower back and cervical.
  3. Improved Circulation:  Stress on the heart is minimized in this position. Oxygen-rich blood is able to reach fatigued muscles easier, which allows for faster recovery times.
  4. Expanded Lung Capacity: Being in a zero gravity position opens the angle between the torso and the thighs, thus improving breathing and increasing blood and oxygen.
  5. Recommended by Doctors (and astronauts): Zero gravity allows for a perfectly balanced state in which the body experiences an absolute minimum of internal and external stress. It is the optimal position to prevent and relieve back and muscle pain.

Visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists and test out one of our Zero Gravity chairs. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more pain relief tips and products.

Improve Your Sleep with Massage Therapy

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Do you have sleep problems throughout the week? If so, you’re not alone. It has been estimated that nearly 50 to 70 million Americans experience issues with sleep that affect their health. While we have touched on the benefits of massage therapy before, the infographic below provides a deeper look at how this practice improves sleep.

Visit us online at www.relaxtheback.com or stop by your local Relax The Back location to see our full collection of massage and sleep products and speak with one of our trained specialists to help you sleep easier at night.

Improve Sleep with Massage Therapy

Avoid Injury During Winter

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While the winter season continues, snow will pile up around homes, driveways and sidewalks. Colder temperatures paired with the strenuous activity of keeping those driveways and sidewalks clear puts you at a higher risk for aches, pains, and injury. Each year, nearly 11,500 injuries relating to snow shoveling are treated in the Emergency Room.  Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to prevent unnecessary pain during this time of year. Take a look at the infographic below to see how you can avoid injury during winter:

snow shoveling injury

Resolutions For a Pain-Free Year

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new years resolution When you look back on 2014, was part or most of the year spent dealing with aches and pains? Other than the common cold, back pain sends more people to the doctor than any other condition. Living with less pain can be an attainable goal. Add these resolutions for a pain-free year to your list and vow to have a healthier year while managing your pain.

  • Make sleep a priority: Over time, lack of sleep can lead to serious health risks. Invest in a supportive pillow and mattress to help your body take full advantage of restorative sleep. Create a sleep environment that promotes comfort and relaxation to ensure the best night of sleep possible. Adequate, quality sleep helps improve mood and personal performance, cardiovascular health, and recovery time from injuries, to name a few positive effects.
  • Be active: There are numerous exercises that can protect the spine in different ways. Maintaining a regular workout routine can help prevent future injuries while also helping you feel more productive and energized throughout the day. Focusing on exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles will support and protect your spine. Cardio exercises will aid in losing weight that can drag down muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the lower back. Follow these tips to stay active throughout the day.
  • Create a spine-healthy, ergonomic workspace: 33% of work-related injuries are caused by poor work station setup. Sitting for long periods of time takes a toll on our bodies. Back, neck, and shoulder pain can be avoided with a proper ergonomic workspace. Resolve to end these aches and pains by creating a space that allows for maximum flexibility, comfort, movement, and productivity.
  • Stay hydrated: Water is vital when it comes to the spine. Over time, our spinal discs can shrink if they do not get enough water. This results in an increased likelihood of ruptures or bulges due to less “padding”. Staying hydrated will also help with concentration, digestion, and injury prevention.Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces throughout the day. For example, if you weigh 130 lbs. aim to drink at least 65 oz. per day.
  • Stress less: From anxiety, depression, physical pain, and chest pain, stress can present itself in many different ways. These tips to relax and de-stress can help reduce the negative effects stress has on the body and mind and improve your overall quality of life.

Give The Gift of Quality Sleep

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Sleep ProductsThe importance of quality sleep is no secret. Chronic sleep loss can lead to serious health risks such as high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, and weight gain. This holiday season, help your loved ones get the best night’s sleep they can with a gift that will continue to give long after the holidays are over.

Here are our top gifts for sleep for those in need of a quality night’s rest:

  • ContourSleep Posture Cushion ($75): Your loved one will enjoy a sound sleep, without pain. The ContourSleep Posture Cushion eases pressure on tender knee joints and helps keep hips and the spine properly aligned.
  • Snoozer Body Pillows ($70-$215): These J-shaped pillows will help provide your loved one with proper spinal alignment and improves circulation. The Snoozer Body Pillows are great for those with a chronic condition or injuries that require deep, relaxing support no matter the position.
  • ContourSleep Wedges ($79-$228): Give the gift of customized comfort with our Relax The Back sleep wedges. Prevent acid reflux and alleviate lower back pain and muscles spasms with these versatile wedges. They help to reduce pressure on the spine to relieve tension and increase circulation.
  • Technogel Pillows ($169): For the person who always likes the cool side of the pillow! Find consistent ergonomic comfort and support with the Technogel pillow. A layer of cool gel disperses body heat, offering a cool, refreshing sensation against your skin.
  • PureRelax Gel Mattress Topper ($299 – $449): This gel infused memory foam topper provides cooling relief and the right amount of cradling comfort where your loved one needs it most.

Give a gift that keeps on giving with these great sleep products. Visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with a trained sleep expert who can help you find the perfect gift based on specific needs. Also be sure to visit us online (www.relaxtheback.com) and on Facebookand Twitter.

Reduce Pain While Traveling

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Long flights or car rides can be daunting for those who experience back or neck pain. Standing, sitting, or lying in awkward positions for long periods of time is hard on your muscles, joints, and spine. Seats in airplanes, trains, buses, and cars can aggravate back and neck pain as they are not the most comfortable or ergonomically correct.

Here are a few steps that you can take to help reduce pain while traveling:

  • Drink water: Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your trip. Water helps to lubricate and cushion muscles and joints. Staying hydrated will also help keep headaches away.
  • Sit with support: As we mentioned, seats in planes and cars are often uncomfortable and worn out with poor lumbar support. Bringing a lumbar cushion such as our Self Inflating Back Rest will provide support during long car rides and flights. Using a U-Shaped Travel Pillow will give your neck the proper support it needs while also providing comfort. If you’re planning a long road trip and your car has bucket seats, the TravelLite Wedge Seat Cushion will allow for proper spinal alignment. This seat cushion allows you to sit in the ergonomically correct “S” curve position, with added support under your hips.
  • Pack light: Heavy luggage can cause unnecessary strain on your neck and back muscles. Instead of packing one large suitcase, pack 2 smaller bags. Lifting bags into and out of your trunk or overhead bins, and off of the baggage carousel will be much easier. Also, when lifting your bags be sure to lift in stages and never twist your back. Instead, pivot your feet so that your entire body moves. If possible, avoid lifting by asking for help from a flight attendant or a passenger nearby.
  • Get up and move: Occasionally changing positions can help prevent leg cramps, blood clots, and stiff muscles. Try this every 20-30 minutes, if possible. Movement helps stimulate circulation, which brings oxygen and nutrients into the muscles. This helps to prevent aches from sitting for long periods of time. When available, book an aisle seat to make getting up and out of your seat easy and accessible. If you’re driving, make pit stops to get out of the car and move around.
  • Stretch: Speak with your doctor prior to your trip for safe and easy hamstring and hip stretches that you can do while traveling. Stretching will loosen muscles and provide relief during long periods of sitting.