During 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.
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.
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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.
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.
The holidays are fully underway, which means aches and pains due to overexertion are more likely to occur. Shopping and preparing for the holidays is not only stressful but it can also contribute to unwelcome muscle pain and fatigue.
Here are a few tips to prevent pain during the holidays:
- Stay hydrated: Water helps to lubricate and cushion joints and muscles. Inflammation and chronic muscles spasms can be linked to dehydration. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces per day. If you weigh 150 lbs. aim to drink 75 oz. of water.
- Maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine: Don’t push aside your regular eating habits and workout routines. If you’re attending holiday parties, eat in moderation and beware of your nutritional needs. Perform gentle exercises such as these foam roller exercises to help keep muscles loose and prevent pain from happening.
- Stress less: Anxiety and stress can creep up during these busy times. Enjoy the holidays and reduce stress with these tips.
- Vary positions when wrapping presents: While there is no Ideal position for wrapping gifts, you should remember to vary positions as often as possible. Alternate wrapping one gift on a countertop while standing and another gift while sitting at a table. Avoid sitting on the floor to wrap gifts as this can cause unwanted aches and pains and promote poor posture.
- Make sleep a priority: Inadequate sleep can cause pain to worsen over time. It is important to make sure you are continuing to get quality sleep during these hectic holidays. Treat yourself to an early present and ensure better sleep with these sleep products. If possible, try to sneak in a nap during the day. You’ll increase alertness and stamina to help keep you going.
Visit us online at www.relaxtheback.com or stop by your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained associates for pain relief solutions this holiday season. Enjoy Black Friday savings now through December 1st!
The start of November brings the beginning of the holiday season. The season for family time, gift giving, merriment and traveling. Unfortunately, this time can also bring up a lot of stress, anxiety, and angst. The average American will spend one standard work-week a year on holiday activities alone. Roughly 42 hours a year are spent traveling, wrapping gifts, returning gifts, shopping, and attending holiday parties. Not only can stress ruin your holidays, it can also cause harm to your physical and emotional wellbeing. This year, enjoy the holidays and reduce stress before it begins with these helpful tips:
- Plan ahead: Whether you’re making dinner for friends and family or braving the crowds at the mall, making a list can help save time and energy. Wandering aimlessly around the grocery store or the mall can lead to back aches and foot pain. Making a list can get you in and out of stores quickly while keeping you organized during a hectic schedule.
- Don’t abandon your daily routine: It’s important to stick with your daily habits. Make your workout schedule, meal planning, book club, etc., work with your holiday schedule not against it.
- Say “no”: Be aware of when you are stretching yourself too thin. We often feel we have to say yes to all social engagements around the holidays. In the end, this can leave you feeling run down and stressed about the next event. Instead, make plans with friends and family soon after the holiday season winds down.
- Set aside time for yourself: Go to your favorite workout class, read a book, soak in a warm bath or listen to soothing music. Make sure you are taking time to relax and de-stress.
- Add stress-relieving products to your wish list: Ask for gifts that relieve pain and provide comfort and relaxation. For great gifts for the man, woman, or recent grads in your life take a look at Gifts of Comfort for Moms and Grads and Gift Ideas for Dads.
We hope these tips help you have a stress-free and pain-free holiday season with friends and family. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit your local Relax The Back store for more holiday gift ideas.
Are you one of the 31 million Americans who have suffered from low-back pain at least once in their life? There are many factors that can be associated with back pain but one in particular is gravity. Over the course of the day, gravity compresses weight bearing joints and the spine, which can cause low back pain and discomfort.
Inversion therapy is an age-old practice that involves hanging at an angle to allow the body to be in line with the downward force of gravity. This position can aide in reversing the negative effects gravity has on the spine.
By hanging at an inverted angle, one can elongate their spine and relieve pressure that builds up throughout the day. Inversion therapy helps prevent and relieve pain in the neck and shoulders, chronic low back pain, herniated discs, and sciatica. It can also help with postural problems.
Benefits of using inversion tables include:
- Improve circulation
- Relieve stress
- Heighten mental awareness
- Increase flexibility/range of motion
- Improve posture
Once familiar with the different angles of the inversion table, simple exercises can be done to relieve pressure, realign the spine and pelvis, and increase mobility and flexibility. Hold these each for 1-2 minutes, slowly building up the amount of time and degree of inversion.
- For a full body stretch, raise your arms over your head.
- For a gentle back stretch, raise your back to a slight arch.
- For a side stretch, turn your body to one side, turn to the other side and repeat.
Visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists and feel the benefits of an inversion table firsthand. While inversion tables generally provide relief and relaxation, it is best to speak with your doctor before use.
If you have had episodes of pain lasting longer than six months, you may be one of the 100 million Americans who suffer from chronic pain. Pain levels and consistency can vary from person to person. While some may suffer mild, continuous pain, others may have unbearable, sporadic pain.
Symptoms of chronic pain can include feelings of stiffness, soreness, and discomfort, mild to severe pain that doesn’t go away, and shooting, aching, or burning pain. Fatigue, sleeplessness, and a weakened immune system may also occur.
Cleveland Clinic pain and wellness specialists offer 9 ways to tame chronic pain without medications or procedures.