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Whether daily life includes sitting all day at the office or running around chasing after kids, many people suffer from low back pain and poor posture.
As a personal trainer who helps people deal with these issues, I know that core exercises can help. Throughout the day, you can try pulling your naval in towards your spine and then releasing 10 times every hour. Set an hourly reminder on your phone.
You could also go to a Pilates class at your local gym to strengthen your core, a Yoga class to elongate your muscles or get a massage to reduce muscle tension. If you don't have the time or energy, though, there are also some simple items you can use throughout the day to help you reduce pain and improve posture.
Check out our list, and remember to consult with a doctor for chronic back pain.
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“Sitting tightens our hips, weakens our lower back and core, and keeps us stuck in the same position for hours on end," said Lauren Ohayon, a yoga and Pilates instructor in Miami, Florida, who founded the “Restore Your Core” online program. She recommended getting an adjustable standing laptop desk to help you move more throughout the work day. They make it easy to go from sitting to standing in a variety of positions.
Looking for a way to adjust your desk chair without buying a new one? Nikki Walter, a personal trainer in North Dakota, recommended a washable orthopedic seat cushion. “Since it’s made of gel memory foam, you can squish it into a bag, take it with you, and pull it out when you need it," Walter said. "Watch it bounce back to life and relieve your stress in seconds!”
If you have no option but to sit down all day, Amanda Edell — a personal trainer in New York City who founded the Body by Amanda program — recommended rolling out your muscles with the Rad roller to increase blood flow.
“It comfortably fits between the shoulder blades to relieve tension in the upper and lower back and helps to release movement in the rib cage," Edell said. Plus, it’s small enough to easily fit into your desk and not distract anyone.
If you’re looking for an even easier way to roll your muscles, Dr. Mark Baker, a Chicago-based chiropractor and owner of Elite Healthcare, recommended a simple lacrosse ball. “I recommend it for almost every one of my patients," Baker said. "It’s portable, travels well and is incredibly good for getting into the small trigger points.”
To relieve pain all over instead of just in one problem area, Dr. Mark Liponis, the chief medical officer at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, recommended an inversion table that provides massage. While it may be expensive for some, he said it could be worth it for managing a chronic pain issue. "Over time can help relieve chronic neck and back pain,” Liponis added.
Note: The table does require the user to be inverted 30 or 45 degrees.
Dr. Liponis suggested asking your doctor about this cervical traction device to help mange back and neck pain at home. “Often neck pain actually originates from the low back," Liponis said. "But, a person isn’t aware until their neck is stiff. The traction device offers a way for people to safely regain mobility.”
“When tight, our calves and hamstrings pull on our pelvis, taking it out of alignment and leaving our lower back in a lot of pain and our upper back hunched,” Ohayon said. She advises all of her clients to regularly stretch and strengthen the calves and hamstrings with a half-round roller.
“Good posture requires attention and attentiveness,” Liponis said. He recommends this smart device that provides cues and alerts via an app to to voluntarily improve your posture. Little adjustments made throughout the day can impact the alignment of your body.
If you are looking for more, fret not - below are Amazon's best selling back pain relief products. Keep in mind these were not specifically recommended by the doctor we spoke to and anyone should seek medical advice before perusing a treatment of any kind!
Penetrex Pain Relief Cream, $19 (originally $30), Amazon
Biofreeze Pain relief gel, $10, Amazon
Nayoya Back and Neck Pain Relief - Acupuncture Mat and Pillow Set, $40, Amazon
Sunbeam king-size heating pad with ultra-heat technology, $14, Amazon