16 Little Things you are Doing that are Causing you PAIN (and what to do instead)
Do you have nagging aches and pains that just don’t seem to go away? It may not feel like much, but many of our seemingly simple daily movement patterns can cause dysfunctional muscle activity and overuse injuries. Here are some very common causes of pain:
1. Wearing Flip Flops: The lack of support and the amount of effort your toes have to put in to keep those bad boys on your feet is a recipe for disaster. The impact that jars up your spine can cause not only a multitude of problems in the lower body, but can even wreak havoc on your neck.
What to do instead: Opt for more supportive shoes or sandals that wrap around both the ankle and the toes.
2. Wearing your heavy purse on one side of the body: If you are always carrying your purse or other bags on one side of your body, you may be causing a shift through your spine which can result in an imbalanced of pressure in different areas of your back. This can lead to a large cascade of problems.
What to do instead: Switch sides with your purse, take out any unecessary items, or opt for a bag that rolls.
3. Leaning on your console: Similar to the previous point, leaning to one side repetitively will cause shifting and rotation through your spine, again leading to pinching and imbalancing of areas in the spine and pelvis.
What to do instead: Stop leaning on the console or your door handle and use something to support your lumbar spine on your seat. Sitting upright and preserving the natural curves of your back are paramount while driving, especially if you are doing a lot of it.
4. Wearing high heels everyday: High heels put your foot in a pointed position which means your calf muscles are shortened. If these muscles remain shortened for a long period of time, they will remain that way and ankle range of motion will be lost. This may not seem important, but we require adequate range of motion in our ankles for an incredible amount of activies.
What to do instead: If high heels are necessary, make sure you have an adequate calf stretching program, or better yet, switch up your footwear if you can.
5. Sitting all day: Sitting all day is a ticking time bomb. Not only for our cardiovascular health, but for the health of our spines. We are not meant to sit in spinal flexion all day, and doing so can put an incredible amount of stress on our spines and result in a lot of pain.
What to do instead: Get up an stretch at least once every hour. While sitting, use a lumbar support to maintain the spine’s natural curves. Have an ergonomic assessment done by your office’s health and safety department or a physiotherapist.
6.Pinching your phone between your ear and shoulder: You know that little spot where your shoulder meets your neck, right at the corner of your shoulder blade? Pinching your phone between your ear and shoulder is a great way to develop a huge knot right there. This knot is not only irritating, but can lead to a large cascade of muscle imblances and cause headaches.
What to do instead: Opt for a headset if possible or use those little earbuds that Apple provides you with when you speak on your iPhone. Speaker phone is always an option if no one is around.
7. Carrying your wallet in your back pocket: Carrying, and even worse, SITTING on a wallet can cause alot of dysfunction in the lower back, pelvis and hips. The pressure on the muscles in the back of the hip can cause pinching of nerves and even lead to the dreaded “sciatica”
What to do instead: Take that thing out of the back pocket. Carry it in your jacket or front pocket if necessary. Thin it out as much as possible. I am not sure if you still need that finished starbucks giftcard in there.
8. Carrying emotional stress: Surprisingly, emotional stress not only can cause a number of issues internally, but can also amplify any pain you may already be experiencing.
What to do instead: This isn’t the easiest one to correct quickly, but knowing and understanding that pain is amplified when stress is high can help to ease symptoms. Being in control of this aspect is this first step toward dealing with this type of pain.
9. Sitting in bed in a computer on your lap: We are all guilty of this one every once in a while, but doing this consistently not only puts your spine in a precarious position, but also puts your entire nervous system on stretch (that’s right, your brain and the spinal cord are flexed, and the nerves that extend down to your toes are totally stretched out) which can cause tingling or numbness or other neural issues.
What to do instead: If you simply must work in bed, use pillows to suport your knees and another to place the laptop on.
10. Not supporting your joints while you sleep: Sleeping in any position can cause pain if you are not well supported.
What to do instead: Try putting a pillow between the knees if you are a side sleeper, one under the knees if you are a back sleeper, or one under the top knee if you sleep 3/4 prone. If you are a stomach sleeper, try tucking one under the hips.
11. Lifting your shoulders when you get cold: This is almost inevitable. It is our bodies natural reaction to being cold. We lift the shoulders and tip to head back. This can cause tension and pain in the neck and shoulders.
What to do instead: Wear a scarf or something that covers your neck whenever you go out in the cold. This will keep your warmer and lessen the impulse to lift the shoulders
12. Bending forward through your low back (instead of hips): When we bend forward through our low back (while performing many daily activities: brushing our teeth, unloading the dishwasher, picking up our kids), we put a lot of tension through the lumbar spine and take it out of its most stable position (neutral). If the spine is out of its stability comfort zone, we put ourselves at risk of injury.
What to do instead: Try to hinge through the hips. Keep a neutral spine, bend through the knees and hinge forward through the hips.
13. Ignoring little aches and pains: Not dealing with little aches an pains is a great way to have everything blow up into a big injury in the future. Previous injury is the number predictor of future injury.
What to do instead: Rehab old injuries and have nagging pains assesses by a PT or other health professional.
14. Texting – alot: Looking down constantly at a handheld device puts the neck on a great deal of strain. All the ligaments and muscles at the back of the neck are stretched right out and the natural C-curve of the neck is lost. This gives way to much pain and intense headaches.
What to do instead: Stop looking down so much at your phone. Stretch frequently and bring the phone up to eye level when appropriate.
15. Clenching your jaw: If you ever catch yourself clenching your jaw while performing any task, be it washing dishes or doing a plank, this is a sign of a dysfunctional motor pattern, ie a weakness somewhere else in your body. Jaw clenching is the body’s way of compensating for the weakness and needs to be dealt with ASAP. Jaw clenching can lead to a lot of problems, painful headaches and a ton of oral health issues.
What to do instead: Have an assessment by a physiotherapist or other health practitioner, ideally someone who is well versed in NeuroKinetic Therapy to figure out what your compensation pattern is. In the mean time, catch yourself when you are doing this and try to correct it before it progresses into something worse.
16. Holding your breath: The same goes for holding your breath as for the jaw. Holding your breath while doing anything active again can indicate weakness somewhere else, likely the core. This is a sign of a greater problem and needs to be addressed quickly.
What to do instead: Try to breathe throughout all of your movements and have an assessment performed by your healthcare practitioner.