Stress is a terrible thing for your body, not just your mental health. It manifests itself in many different ways, but one of the most common ways is muscle tightness. This can cause aches in your back or neck.
Having good posture is important for more than just looking confident. Slouching, hunching over your desk, leaning to one side, and even poor sleeping positioning are some of the most common examples of poor posture. Because most of this is centered around your neck and back, this can lead to some aches and pains.
Cause: Pinched Nerves
If you’re experiencing sharp pain in your neck or back, you may have a pinched nerve. This happens when pressure is added to a nerve, often near your spine. Pinched nerves can be accompanied by tingling, decreased sensation, muscle weakness, and hindered mobility.
Tumors are cells that keep growing when they shouldn’t. They can lower sensation in your extremities, make moving difficult, affect your bowel and bladder, hinder your vision, and make you weaker. Tumors aren’t always cancerous, but you should definitely seek help immediately.
Cause: Other Factors
While stress, poor posture, pinched nerves, and tumors are the most common cause of back and neck pain, they aren’t the only ones. Less common examples include degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, and spinal stenosis. These problems typically have to do with the spinal cord itself. If you experience problems that home remedies can’t seem to fix, consult a doctor about the possibility of one of these symptoms.
If you’re experiencing back or neck pain, specifically pain caused by stress, posture, or another cause not requiring medical attention, try getting your endorphins flowing with some sort of activity or exercise. The exercise itself is great, but endorphins are really great things. These hormones will make you happy and block your pain. It’s your body’s way of taking care of itself.
You might be experiencing back pain because you aren’t getting enough rest at night. If you only sleep for four hours or simply have restless nights, work on fixing that. Make sure you get your eight hours with correct posture. You should be in a position that encourages the natural curve of your back. Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees or on your side with your knees bent. Use pillows for your head, but not so many that your neck is bent at an unnatural angle all night. Avoid sleeping on your stomach; this will only cause more back problems.
Treatment: Exercise Your Core
Back pain can be caused by your muscles falling into disrepair. Exercising your core (your hips, lower back, and abs) will help that. You don’t have to get washboard abs, but a few minutes a day could be all you need to get that pain to go away! Try planks, partial crunches, and hip bridges.
There are a lot of muscles tied to your back and neck. You’ve got plenty of big muscles, but you also have a lot of small muscles you’ve probably never heard of. These muscles may be tight, causing you a lot of pain and hindering your mobility. Try stretching your lower back, abs, hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps. We recommend stretching your hamstring by sitting down with your legs straight in front of you and touching your toes. You should also gently roll your head to stretch your neck.
Treatment: Heat & Cold Therapy
Using hot and cold pads are a great way to help heal your body and relieve pain. Heat therapy will increase blood flow and flexibility. Cold therapy will decrease inflammation. If you want to try heat and cold therapy, you can apply either a heat pack or a bag of ice wrapped in a towel to your painful spot for up to 20 minutes at a time.
When are massages ever not great? They solve so many problems, and neck and back pain are no different. Massages reduce stress, work out knots in your muscles, and relieve pain. If you’ve been struggling with back and neck pain, try a massage.
Treatment: Fix Your Posture
Poor posture will cause serious pain, especially if you’ve had it for years. When you’re sitting down, make sure your knees are kept at right angles, your feet are flat on the floor, and your back has a nice, natural curve in it. Do your best to avoid hunching over your computer or your phone at all times. Keep your chin up!
Treatment: Use a Back Cushion
When you sit for an extended period of time without a proper curve in your spine, you are likely causing back problems. If your desk chair, car, or other seats don’t have proper lumbar support, buy something that does! You can typically find lumbar support to strap onto your chair at Bed Bath and Beyond, but Purple and Kiss My Back are also great options.
Treatment: Pain-relief Cream
Many people find relief from their back and neck pain with pain-relief cream. This is a cream that is applied directly to where your aches are. Just remember to treat the source of your pain; don’t just cover it up.
Treatment: Wear Good Shoes
You already know that bad shoes cause back pain, but do you know what shoes you should wear? You want to look for something that has enough cushion to support you as you go about your day. You’ll also want to make sure the shoes do not put your heel significantly higher than your toes because this will put a strain on unnatural places in your body like your knees and lower back.
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Treatment: Reduce Stress
Hear us out on this one. If stress is causing your back and neck to be tight, you shouldn’t only work on massaging your tight muscles. At some point, you’ll have to learn some sort of stress management system if you want your pain to go away for good. We recommend unplugging from your devices for a few minutes, taking breaks from work and other stressful environments, taking deep breaths, and frequently using the best medicine of all: laughter.
Treatment: Get Up
Your back and neck may hurt because you’ve been sitting in the same spot for hours. That’s crazy. Our bodies are designed to be active. Try to get up for about a minute every half hour or a few minutes every hour. You can even park a few blocks from work to get your blood flowing at some point during the day. You may feel weird getting up that much or walking that far, but your back won’t hurt as badly!