Origin Rehab Physical Therapy, Health, And Wellness

The Hidden Cause of Your Constant Neck & Upper Back Pain

Neck pain and upper back pain may be two of the most common ailments people experience. From struggling to move your neck, to worrying about the position you sit in on your favorite sofa, pain in the upper torso is debilitating. Yet, many of those who experience these kinds of issues haven’t suffered a fall, twisted their necks unnaturally, or been on rollercoasters since their pain started. For most people, the cause of neck pain or upper back discomfort can’t be pinpointed: there is no single unique moment in which their backs or necks could have been injured. What then? How did they come to be in so much pain? And if you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking the same thing about yourself. Fear not, however, because we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll be investigating the hidden causes that have led to your neck and upper back pain. We’ll also be looking at what to do about it and which steps to take next.


The really frustrating thing about constant neck and upper back pain is that, no matter what you seem to do, it just doesn’t want to disappear. You’ve tried everything: hot water bottles, massages, and even long periods of rest, yet nothing has changed, right? Well, the truth is, it isn’t going to get any better unless you find out exactly why you’re experiencing the pain. See, the thing is, neck and upper back pain often have pretty mundane sources: your everyday habits might be the culprits here. Thus, no matter what you do, if you don’t start there, nothing will change. In lieu of this, take a look at some of the fairly common mistakes people make:


Lack of Exercise

Now, I can hear you thinking from here… “I should be resting my muscles, not moving them!” Well, no, not really. By not moving enough, you are actually setting your recovery back considerably. Muscles and joints need to move in order to maintain mobility. If you aren’t moving your upper back and neck enough, your muscles will start to stiffen and shorten, thereby placing stress on your joints and decreasing overall movement. This invariably leads to the pain you’re experiencing now. So, while rest may intuitively feel like the right thing to do, it may actually be doing more harm than good. Why not try doing some gentle stretches to loosen up the painful area? Furthermore, if you sit at a desk for long periods of time, be mindful of getting up regularly and stretching your neck and upper back. Walk around a bit and, during your time off, take up a new sport like cycling, walking, or swimming.


Posture

Having bad posture is one of the leading causes of upper back and neck pain. Slouching leads to a variety of ailments in the long run, but a tell-tail sign of poor alignment is the nagging discomfort you come to experience in your upper torso. Start becoming mindful of how you sit and stand: make sure your spine is aligned correctly. If you’re sitting at a desk all day, make sure your chair supports your back correctly, and that your computer – if you use one – is at eye-level.


Everyday Habits: Strain on you Upper Back and Neck

You may not know this, but some of the things you do daily actually affect your upper back and neck considerably. Think about driving, for example. How long do you sit in the car for? And, when you drive, do you turn your neck or just blink into the rear-view mirror when necessary? These are the types of things you need to start considering when it comes to the health of your upper back and neck. How long do you stare at your phone for, and do you slouch while you do it? When you bend down to pick up the groceries, the school bags, or your pot plants, do you do it mindfully or without regard for your upper back and neck? What about when you clean the house, play golf, brush your teeth and hair, or shave your legs? All these daily decisions and actions accumulate over time, and the effect their incorrect execution may have is usually far too understated. Make a change today: be mindful and cognizant of how you do certain tasks, how often you do them, and whether you’re aware of what your body is trying to signal to you. The devil is in the details.


When it comes to tackling the issue of upper back and neck pain, as has been mentioned earlier, movement is your best friend. Move as much as you can and as often as you can. Be conscious of the fact, however, that you should always be sensitive to the type of activities you’re able to do. Some safe activities on your road to health include Pilates and yoga, both of which offer you the opportunity to enhance the flexibility and mobility of you upper back and neck muscles. You could also try walking, swimming, and relaxing hikes in order to jumpstart your journey to a pain free life.


In addition to the extra physical activities we suggest, physical therapy is by far the best, safest and most effective way of tackling and overcoming your upper back and neck pain. With the help of a professional, hands-on physical therapist, you’ll not only find the root cause of the problem, but your particular issue will be treated accordingly, thereby permanently relieving your pain. And not only that, a physical therapist with equip you with the tools to maintain your pain free life by giving you tailor-made stretches and exercise routines suited to you personally. Physical therapy will mobilize your joints, relieve stiffness, and rid you of your pain so that you can enjoy the life you deserve.


If you’re unsure about where to start, or you feel discouraged by the daily pain you’re enduring, contact us today. We’re here to uncover the hidden causes of your neck and upper back pain so that you can get back to living the life you dream of. We invite you to fill out the form below in order to speak to one of our highly qualified, professional physical therapists… find out how we can help you eliminate your pain, today!

Why Back Pain Isn’t “NORMAL” Even if You’re Getting Older

Back pain: very few people go through life without feeling its debilitating effects. From dull aches to sharp, stabbing sensations, back pain can afflict many of us in various ways. For a some people, back pain is a prolonged struggle that can strike at any moment, the intensity and heartache of which seems to increase over time if left untreated. For others, however, back pain seems to appear later on in life, and the predominant assumption is that it is therefore age related. Here’s the thing, though: it isn’t necessarily true. Yes, that’s right. Back pain – especially when you’re older – actually has very little to do with your age and a lot more to do with your lifestyle. In this post we look at why we often mistake middle-age back pain for something “normal” or “natural”, and we discuss some of the ways in which you can overcome the pain and get back to the active, mobile lifestyle you deserve.


The biggest issue with back pain in later years is that, well, it’s accompanied by general acceptance. Most people who experience back pain when they’re older just accept it and try to work around it, so to speak. And while we’re not denying that back pain may come with age, we are saying that the pain is NOT a product of age, rather that it is a result of an aging mindset or imbalanced lifestyle.


Let’s think about this for a moment: it is true that, as we age, our bodies require a little more maintenance. We no longer have the metabolisms of 18 year olds, and we can’t really keep up on the soccer field. Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to give up on trying to be active or healthy. The problem with middle-age back pain is not that it is a natural response to aging, but that we allow it to be defined by age. If we maintained healthy lifestyles, kept active, and enjoyed a healthful diet, our age would not determine the health of our backs – our lifestyles would. In other words, age is just a number, but you really, truly are what you do. Here are some of the reasons you might incorrectly assume that your back is sore simply because of your age:


Breaking Good Exercise Habits

When you were younger you had the motivation and will to run the extra proverbial mile. Getting up at 6am to go to the gym wasn’t a chore, and the pay-off at the end of the day was worth the endurance it took to stay slim and healthy. However, as you aged, you had to work a little harder, struggled a little more to wake up early, and found that juggling a job, kids, pets, and a social life left little in the way of time for exercise. And the result? You aged. Yes, that’s right. As controversial as that may seem, the minute you let yourself break all the good habits you had when you were young, you started to age. And, sadly, the consequences of that meant – yeah, you guessed it – back pain. Here’s the thing: the habits you forge define who you are and how you feel. If you incorporated movement, exercise, cardio, and stretching into your life, right now, you’d jumpstart your journey to health by strengthening the muscles in your back. You’ll feel and look younger! Do some yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi – whatever you choose, stretch and move those muscles! If you want something a little less adventurous, why not start by taking

a daily walk, getting up a couple of minutes earlier to hit the yoga mat, or joining a spinning class in your local gym? It’s amazing what a mind-shift can do you for your body.


Posture Problems

Let’s face it, when we’re young we really don’t worry too much about the position in which we sit, how we stand, or how evenly we distribute our body weight. The only problem with this is that our mistakes eventually catch up to us. Poor posture is one of the leading causes for back pain experienced in middle age – not only does a lack of mindful joint and muscle positioning mean that you place stress on the spine, but it also means that you constantly repeat the same detrimental stances and gait. You end up entrenching the pain by destabilizing your body’s balance. Thus it comes as no surprise that the battle against back pain is the battle against poor posture. And, of course, poor posture makes you feel older: you’re bent downward and you feel less inclined to move. So, in a bid to rid yourself of discomfort, start by correcting your posture and practicing more mindful ways of positioning the spine during sleep and the hours spent at your desk. Your back will thank you.


Weight Gain Woes

Here’s the rub, right? Weight gain is perhaps the most quintessential middle-age battle; we gain weight as we age and, unfortunately, the weight carries a lot more than a few extra pounds. Gaining weight often means excess stress not only on your organs, but on your joints and muscles, too. Your back actually incurs a dramatic increase in pressure as you gain weight, the result of which can often lead to disc damage or spinal injuries. Controlling your weight is absolutely vital is maintain a healthy back. So, why not opt for a cooking course to learn a few new recipe’s, or take your partner up on that new dish he or she has been dying to make. Increasing the amount of vegetables, berries, fruit, healthy oils and fats, as well as beans and legumes in your diet will help you maintain a healthy weight.


Let’s be frank: back pain can rob you of your happiness and joy. We also realize that living with back pain is something that can feel too big to tackle on your own. And that is why we know that the tips above, no matter how badly you want to start doing them, may seem daunting to begin with. What can be done, then? Feeling younger is as much about the changes you choose to make as the mind-shift you need to implement. Make a change, right now – get the help you need.


For the safest, easiest, most effective way of tackling your back pain, contact a professional, hands-on physical therapist. Physical therapy offers you the opportunity to regain your joy and for you to feel younger and happy again. With a physical therapist, you’ll receive hands-on, caring treatment aimed at treating the root cause of the problem, thereby giving you a permanent solution to the daily pain you’re suffering. And not only that, physical therapy gives you tailor-made, targeted exercises and stretches for you to do at home, thereby equipping you with the tools you need to maintain a pain-free life. No painkillers, no surgery, and no temporary fixes: physical therapy is the best way to overcome your back pain, right now.


Age is just a number, and back pain does not have to be a product of your age. You can overcome your back pain and get back to the life you deserve. For more information about how we can help you do just that, contact one of our professional physical therapists, right now. We’re here to help: don’t let back-pain steal even one more moment of your life.

Tips for Avoiding Back Pain While Driving This Season

There’s something about driving, isn’t there? The long roads, the beautiful landscapes, great music on the stereo, and back pain. Wait, what? Back pain? Yes, that’s right. While we all love taking long road trips with loved ones, or indulging in the much-needed down-time on our drive to the take out, driving can take an unanticipated physical toll. On that note, the festive season is upon us and it’s my guess that the gas tank is full and you’ve already packed your elf costume for a visit to grandma’s, right? Well, in that case, you best keep reading. I’m here to tell you all about why you get back pain when driving and what you can do to avoid it. Let’s jump straight in!

Maybe you’re wondering why you never really thought about driving as back pain being related. And that’s ok! It may not seem immediately obvious – in fact, it’s often the last place people think to look. Ironically, though, it’s probably the first culprit to turn to. Here’s why:

Poor Posture

Sitting in a car seat can be tough on your back at the best of times, but being stuck in that position for long durations of time, or for many days consecutively, can wreak absolute havoc on your back muscles and spine. Not only is your mobility and general movement restricted, but your neck, shoulders, back, and hips, are forced into a largely unnatural position. The result? Pain… and at times, a lot of it.

Lack of Movement

As mentioned above, car rides restrict movement. I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of not being able to stretch your legs or arms as you’d like to, right? Well, it goes even deeper than that. Your muscles stay unnaturally still during long journeys, thereby causing them to spasm or, over long periods of time, become very inflexible. All of this can result in back pain, more spasms, and ultimately, a vicious cycle.

Not Stretching Ahead of the Drive

I don’t think you realized how important this is, did you? If you don’t stretch your muscles before you drive, the consequences can be far reaching: stiffness and pain at the end of the road, but looking further ahead, prolonged back issues if you’re not careful. Many, many people could avoid back pain if they just stretched prior to driving.

To be honest, the list can be exhaustive when it comes to back pain and driving, and really, the key to avoiding injury and discomfort is to prepare ahead of time. Nope, I don’t mean grabbing a Starbucks before hitting the highway, though that would be nice. I’m talking about making sure that the environment and your body are both ready for the journey ahead. Let’s see how you can do that…

Stretching Ahead of Time

You knew I was going to say this, didn’t you? Stretching ahead of your journey remains the single most important thing you can do to stave of back pain during and after your drive. Make sure you run through all the major muscles in your back, legs, shoulders, and neck – don’t skip through the stretches to avoid traffic! Give yourself enough time to really ease into the stretches – lengthen your muscles and prepare yourself for the relatively cramped car seat.

Take the Time to Adjust Your SeatEven If Youre Switching Drivers Along the Way

Do you remember your driving test? Remember how meticulously you checked your mirrors, your seat, your seatbelt, and your neck rest? Well, why do anything differently when it comes to back pain? You have to make sure that your seat is adjusted properly: don’t lean too far forward or back, and make sure your feet are able to reach the pedals comfortably. If you drive an automatic vehicle, ensure that you aren’t crammed up against the dashboard, but are well within reach of the break. Make sure you are able to stretch your arms out ahead of you without straining, and give yourself enough lee-way to stretch your neck: check all mirrors accordingly. There is nothing more uncomfortable than having to drive scrunched up and being restricted.

And What About the Steering Wheel?

You didn’t think I would forget about the most important part of your posture-alignment did you? The steering wheel takes first prize when it comes to reducing back pain! Always take the time to adjust it in such a way that your back remains supported and you do not strain forward. Some cars may do this automatically, but if not, make sure you understand how to adjust the height and length of the steering wheel.

Work on Your Posture

It’s very easy to slip into a ‘sofa’ pose as your cruise down the road listening to the Beetles, but it is incredibly important to remain aware of your posture at all times. If you feel yourself slumping or leaning too far back into the seat, take a minute to re-adjust your posture. Your back will certainly thank you for it when you reach your destination!

Take Regular Breaks

If you needed an excuse to stop over for a coffee and a snack, then I’m happy to give you one. Taking regular breaks during longer journeys is essential when it comes to avoiding back pain. Once you park, make sure to get out of the car, stretch, rehydrate, and re-center your focus. Ensure that you’re aware of your posture and, if you’re in pain, make the necessary adjustments to your seat and mirrors.

Cruise Control

If your car is equipped with cruise control, then you’re quite lucky! Cruise control enables you to take a break from one single seating position in order to shift into another. Be sure, though, that whichever position you choose is supportive of your back and ensures that your posture remains correct.

Here’s the thing… as much as we crave grandma’s homemade apple pies, long distance or continual driving can end our festive season before it even starts. Back pain related to driving is very much a present you don’t want to open. So, why not contact a professional, hands-on physical therapist to help you prevent it? Yes, that’s right, physical therapists can help you avoid back pain by showing you how to correct your posture, adjust your seats, and stretch properly. And not only that, physical therapy will help you eradicate back pain if you’re already suffering from it! By treating the root cause of the problem, physical therapy will help you maintain a pain free life while simultaneously equipping you with the tools to carry on your healthy journey at home!

So, really, the road to a pain free back is much shorter than you think. Don’t let long distance driving put a damper on your festive season – give us a call to find out we can get you back on the road safely and securely.