Swim Away From Back Pain

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When the weather starts to warm up, consider incorporating swimming into your exercise routine. Unlike many forms of aerobic exercises, swimming is easy on the joints and spine since there is practically no impact on spinal structures. Water resistance allows for increased range of motion while strengthening weak back and neck muscles.

Although therapeutic, this aquatic exercise can also cause back pain. Likely causes are hyperextension, or over stretching, of the back and jerking motions in the neck during certain strokes. To prevent further injury, practice proper form and technique.

Freestyle (Front Crawl): Keep your body lying flat in the water and hold lower abdominal muscles up and in, and keep your head straight rather than lifted. When taking a breath, slightly roll your body along with your head to reduce neck strain. Inexperienced swimmers or those with severe back pain should consider using a snorkel or breathing device.

Breaststroke: A wider stroke helps strengthen back muscles and reduce pain. Make sure to gently raise the head and neck during breaths.

Backstroke: Start slowly and gradually increase the length of distance to avoid neck muscle fatigue associated with the backstroke.

Remember to properly stretch beforehand and avoid overdoing your workout. Using Exercise and Therapy Foam Rollers can help massage sore muscles and enhance flexibility and strength before and after your workouts. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting a new exercise to determine if swimming is right for you.

Tips to Prevent Back Pain While Golfing

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Preventing Pain when Golfing

Golf is a favorite hobby among many men and women. Unfortunately, back pain is a common injury among the golf community. Many golfers will experience some form of back pain at some point during their lives, with one report stating nearly 80% of amateur golfers have back related injuries. There are many different muscle groups involved when swinging a golf club, as it requires a smooth, repetitive motion. Keeping these muscles stretched, well rested, and flexible is key to injury prevention.

Follow these steps to ensure you never miss a tee time:

 

  • Take it slow: If you haven’t played golf in awhile or are new to the sport, don’t overexert yourself. Start with short sessions on the driving range, working your way up to a full round of golf.
  • Incorporate Conditioning Exercises: Strengthening your core muscles, which include the muscles in your back, abdomen, buttocks, and pelvis, with conditioning exercises can help prevent injuries. Add exercises that focus on rotation to prepare your body for the twisting motions of swinging a golf club.
  • Don’t forget to stretch: A balance of flexibility and strength is required in the game of golf. Having a regular stretching routine will help your muscles remain flexible. Foam rollers are a great way to enhance flexibility and strength. Maintaining a routine before and after a golf game will help alleviate muscle tension and prevent strains or sprains.
  • Invest in an Inversion Table: A recent study by GolfTest USA showed golfers that use Inversion Tables, such as the Teeter HangUps, averaged 3 fewer strokes per round, improved their total distance by an average of 10% and increased driver speed by 69%. Inversion Tables help to improve flexibility while relieving back, shoulder, and hip pain.
  • Take a breather: Swinging a golf club isn’t a natural motion and putting your body through this day after day puts strain on your muscles. Allow some time for you to recover between games. If you are experiencing back or neck pain, be sure to consult your doctor before stepping back on the course.

A Brief History: The Evolution of Ergonomics

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In the 1940s, an advancement of machinery and equipment during and post-World War II lead to a disharmony between people and the equipment they were using. There was an increased risk of human error and poor user performance. In order to avoid negative effects of human limitations, equipment had to be designed to take advantage of human capabilities consequently, establishing the scientific discipline we know today as Ergonomics. While the early focus of ergonomics was on aviation and aircraft controls, it has become a standard practice in designing computers, cars, and other consumer products.

With 33% of work-related injuries being caused by poor work station setup, occupational ergonomics is a top priority for many employers and employees. Over the years, there has been a shift in the way companies look at ergonomics. Companies were reactive when addressing proper ergonomics, oftentimes waiting to react to injuries or employee complaints, whereas today, the approach is proactive. Companies use tools, equipment, and best practices to prevent injuries and reduce the level of exposure. Companies are now encouraged to have integrated design phases, which take equipment, products, layout, and standard ergonomic guidelines into account when designing workspaces. Another shift in the discipline has been the method of assessment. Years ago, employees would attend classroom training sessions, in-person evaluations by a certified staff member, and chair-fitting rooms. Today, there is a stronger emphasis on employee-driven, in-office assessments. Chairs and workstations offer full range of adjustability, workstation design is based on computer use, and employees are able to assess and adjust their own workstations.

Here at Relax The Back, we continue to learn and improve our knowledge on ergonomics, and the tools and equipment that can be used to reduce and prevent injuries.  Read more information on ergonomics or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists about a free workstation assessment.

 

Prevent Pain When Gardening

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Spring is officially here, which means more time spent working in the yard. While gardening can be a leisurely, therapeutic activity, it can also lead to aches and pains. Hauling wheelbarrows, wrangling hoses, and constantly kneeling over to weed, mulch, and plant puts strain on your lower back, spine, and shoulders. Fortunately, there are techniques and tips to help prevent pain and keep you enjoying your favourite hobby:

  • Lift with your knees when picking up heavy objects such as a wheelbarrow or bags of soil. Avoid lower back strain by lifting with your knees and hips, as they are better equipped than your back when lifting heavy objects. A posture support like the Cybertech Spine Brace encourages proper posture, which also helps prevent back injuries.
  • Invest in quality tools. Old or broken tools with lot of wear and tear can make simple jobs a lot more difficult, so the next time you see that rusty rake, think about investing in a new set of tools that are ergonomically designed and have cushioned grips. In the end, taking tool shortcuts can only cause more damage than good.
  • Weed on your hands and knees to keep your spine elongated for less strain and pain. Pay attention to the placement of your shoulders over your wrists as they bear most of the responsibility when reaching, grasping and supporting your body weight. If you begin to feel unnecessary, uncomfortable tension, slowly ease out of your current position to avoid straining any muscles.
  • Stay hydrated will help you maintain energy throughout your gardening work as well as keep muscles and joints lubricated. Try to drink 6-oz of water every 20 minutes if you are working hard and sweating. Also, try taking a few minutes every half hour to cool off and rest in the shade.
  • Plan a circuit to avoid repetition. Stiffness and soreness can be linked to repeating the same task, over and over again, for long periods of time. Set aside time to alternate between tasks: weed for an hour, plant for an hour, rake for an hour, water for an hour. Breaking up your time spent in the garden into different to-dos will reduce muscle strain as well as help keep down feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Stretch and ice after you’ve completed your tasks for the day. Gentle stretches will help you avoid strained muscles and stiffness the next morning. If you are feeling a strain in a muscle, apply and ice pack, such as these reusable cold therapy pads, to the sore area before bed. It will help reduce inflammation.

As always, we recommend you talk with your healthcare provider to determine if gardening is safe for any pain conditions you may have.  For more tips on pain prevention and relief, follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists.

Relax The Back Celebrates 30 Years

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30 years ago, in 1984, the first Relax The Back location opened in a small house in Austin, TX. What started as one retail store has grown into nearly 100 franchise locations across the United States and Canada. Built on physical therapist Robin McKenzie’s philosophy of back and neck self-care, Relax The Back believes in patients taking control of their spinal health by strengthening, stretching, and supporting the spine throughout the day.

In 1986, Virginia Rogers bought Relax The Back and began to transform the business into what it is today. As an avid traveler who experienced back pain daily, she did not want to let pain control her life. After using Relax The Back products, she found relief and took control of her chronic back pain. She wanted to share this knowledge to help others live pain-free. Many franchisees started as customers who found relief using our products and want to provide this relief to others.

Relax The Back began franchising in 1989, when professional basketball player and former Antonio Spur, Coby Dietrick, became the first franchise owner.  Being an NBA player, he experienced constant back pain due to his height and career in basketball. He too found relief and was transformed by the Relax The Back lifestyle.

One of first stores in Austin, TX was formerly a women’s boutique.

Today, a core value and top priority has been maintained since we first opened our doors – providing individualized attention to all of our customers in order to pin-point what their specific pain relief needs are and help them find the proper solutions. Our ties with the medical community have strengthened our ability to provide product solutions to improve our customers’ outcomes. Through proper ergonomics, neutral posture support, and education customers can find daily relief from pain and discomforts. 

To celebrate 30 years of providing ‘round the clock relief we are giving away 30 prizes over a 30-week period in our “30 for 30” Facebook Giveaway.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for promotions and tips to relieve daily discomfort. Or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists.

30 for 30 Facebook Giveaway

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Since opening our first location 30 years ago, Relax The Back has become a leader in back and neck pain relief solutions. We owe much of our success to you, our loyal customers, for your insistence on quality, service, and integrity.

To celebrate making like more comfortable and to thank our loyal customers, we will be giving away 30 products over the next 30 weeks. Prizes will be announced weekly on our Facebook page. To enter, simply Like or Comment on the Facebook post to be entered to win that week’s prize. You may enter to win as many products as you would like.

Watch the video below for a sneak peek at the giveaway products to help you live more comfortably and pain-free:

Terms and Conditions: No purchase necessary to enter to win. The giveaway is open to legal residents of the United States, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry. The giveaway will begin on 3/20/14 and end the week of 10/13/14. You can enter the giveaway on our Facebook page by Liking or Commenting on the active prize post. You may enter to win as many prizes as you wish. Winners will be selected at random weekly, prior to the new prize announcement. Once notified, the winner will have five (5) days to provide requested information or a new winner will be selected. 

 

A Guide to Good Posture at Work

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Over time, ongoing back and neck pain can develop due to poor posture while sitting and standing. It is very important to be aware of your posture at home and on the job.  Not only can poor posture cause back and neck pain but it can also cause damage to your spinal structure. Fortunately, these pains and discomforts can be avoided with a few simple tips.

This infographic by Greatist can help you improve and maintain good posture during the workday:

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

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This week marks National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep Awareness Week. Throughout the week, tips and facts are provided to educate the public and create awareness around the importance of sleep. It is no secret that lack of sleep brings about negative effects such as crankiness, lack of focus, and grogginess but did you know sleep deprivation increases your risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke? The following infographic can help you determine your sleep needs, as well as provide tips and insight into ways you can sleep better at night:

sleep tips

Sleep Better Together: 8 Tips for Couples

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Sleep Better Together: Tips for couples

More than 60% of American adults sleep with a significant other, or at least they try to. While studies suggest that sleeping together has positive benefits on one’s health, it also brings about issues with one’s quality of sleep. Tossing and turning, temperature control, snoring, and distractions can all have negative affects on your sleep quality and health. If sleeping with your significant other is a struggle, you are not alone.

Follow these 8 tips to help the two of you sleep better together:

  1. Invest in the best mattress for both of you. Try out a number of mattress options, ideally with an expert, to find the perfect comfort level and support for the both of you. A memory foam mattress can be a good option for couples, as it diminishes the effects of tossing and turning and does not transfer motion.
  2. Find the perfect pillow and replace it regularly. Along with your mattress, your pillow is key to helping you fall asleep and stay asleep. Find a pillow that works for your sleeping style and replace it every two to three years. Over time, pillows change shape and collect enough bacteria, mold and dust mites to make it unhealthy.
  3. Minimize disruptions. Use heavy curtains or shades, cover electronics, or try using a sleep mask to cover your eyes and keep distracting lights at bay. Turn phones off or on silent and if possible, keep the pets and the kids out of bed.
  4. Control the temperature. Often times, couples have different temperature preferences. To address this, have your own blankets on the bed or use a dual-zone mattress pad, like the Chilipad, which allows each of you to heat and cool your side of the bed to your preferred temperature.
  5. Stagger bedtimes. If you have come to the conclusion that your partner keeps you from falling asleep due to snoring or tossing and turning, try going to sleep first. They can join you once you have fallen into a deep sleep.
  6. Silence is best.  Consider wearing earplugs to quiet snoring and other outside noises. If you and your partner wake up at different times, look into a vibrating alarm clock that you can place in your pillow so it does not disturb your partner when it’s time to wake up.
  7. Make sleep a priority. Since the quality of sleep affects mental and physical health, it is important to make adequate sleep a top priority.
  8. Relax. Sometimes it is hard to disconnect, relax, and be present in the moment. At the end of the day, this is your time to do this and to reconnect with your partner.  

For more information on sleep tips and products be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter or visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with one of our trained specialists.

8 Tips for Traveling with Back Pain

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Travel with Back Pain

Traveling can be hard on your muscles, joints, and nerves. Prolonged sitting puts stress on the spine and stiffens muscles in the back and legs and lugging heavy suitcases puts you at risk for low back injuries.

These tips can help you reduce pain and stress while traveling:

  • Pack Light: Instead of packing one large, heavy suitcase, pack 2 smaller bags. This will make lifting bags into and out of the trunk of your car or overhead bins, and off of baggage carousels much easier.
  • Lift luggage in stages: Move slowly and in stages when lifting luggage into the overhead bin. In separate motions, start by lifting the bag to the armrest of the seat, then to the top of the seatback, and finally up and into the bin. Remember to reverse this pattern when you remove your luggage.
  • When lifting, never twist: Pivot your feet so that your entire body moves instead of only twisting your back. Twisting is a common cause of lower back injuries. If possible, avoid lifting all together by asking for help from a flight attendant.
  • Relief with ice and heat: Bring a Ziploc bag and ask a flight attendant for some ice or stow a cold pack in your carry on. Place between your lower back and your seat for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation caused by lower back pain. A heatable self-massage ball such as Dr. Cohen’s Acuball Kit can provide post-travel relief.
  • Move Around: Change positions occasionally when seated to help avoid leg cramps and improve circulation. Massaging your legs and calves and doing shoulder rolls will also help.  Consult your doctor for a few safe and easy hip and hamstring stretches you can do while traveling. During long flights and if possible, try to get up and walk about the cabin to stimulate blood flow and help prevent blood clots.
  • Get aisle seat: An aisle seat allows you to easily get into and out of your seat. This makes it easier for you to move about the cabin.
  • Sit with support: Airline seats are often worn out with poor lumbar support. Place a small rolled-up blanket or use an inflatable back cushion, like a Self-Inflating Back Rest, to find proper lumbar support during flight. Using a U-Shaped Travel Pillow will also provide proper support.
  • Drink water: Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water as it helps cushion and lubricate joints and muscles.