Regardless of how fit, flexible and strong you are, there are seemingly harmless ways you can injury yourself and bring your training to a complete halt. Here’s how to know, avoid and correct so you’re always pain free.
1. Driving crashes your posture
Commuters spend 40-45 hours a year in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams, found a Reuters article. The biggest players in the risk of injury are headrest positions, distance from steering wheel, resting and stretching. If these are incorrect, you can open yourself up to injuries that’ll take you out of the game.
The fix: Set the headrest so in line with the center of your head. Your arms should be at a distance from the wheel so there is a 15-25 degree bend in your elbows, and your chair where you can alternate between pedals. Once per week, slightly change the incline of your seat-back to help prevent muscles getting sedentary on your repetitive daily commute.
2. Changing a baby or shaving
Shaving your face and changing a baby may seem very much unrelated but, when it comes to injuring your lower back, they’re up the same alley. Slightly leaning over by even as little as 15 degrees can trigger back spasms.
Since shaving typically occurs in the morning, the muscles are essentially still very much asleep or inactive and, when changing your baby, the same risk occurs that can cause spasms in your sacroiliac joint.
The fix: Prevention is simple. Putting one foot up on a portable step or on the inside of the cupboard below the sink will alleviate the strain and nearly eliminate the chance of low back spasms during shaving.
When changing the baby, try to get to a safe surface that is waist height. Or you can also put a shallow step under the crib, which you can prop one of your feet on while you are bent over to help your bub.
3. Carrying a bag at your side
If you’re carrying anything that’s more than 5-10% of your body weight in a clutch position, away from your body then you’ll dramatically increase the chance of neck and shoulder pain.
The fix: Wear a bag that has a cross body strap, but not for more that 30 minutes at a time. Thankfully, with the advent of apps like Apple Pay and PayPal, you don’t need your wallet because you can pay for almost anything you need, from a coffee to a car.
4. Getting items out of the back seat
The easiest way to tear a rotator cuff muscle in your shoulder is by sitting in the driver’s seat of a car and reaching into the rear seat to clutch your bag before flinging it up front.
You might get away with this a couple of times but read on…
The fix: Just get our of the car and reach into the back. Squaring your shoulders to the bag puts you in a position of postural control.
5. Lifting your grocery bags
Think you’re strong? Even a 10lb bag of potatoes can cause pain and serious damage to the discs in the lower back of a bodybuilder if it’s lifted incorrectly.
The fix: Take your time and lift every bag individually. Make sure to square yourself; lift the bag close to your body and then and square yourself to your car and then place the bag in the trunk.
6. Sleeping is overly comfortable
Sleeping on your stomach drives your neck into hyperextension, which can jam the joints in the back of the cervical spine, causing muscle spasms or more.
The fix: Sleep on your side in the fetal position with a pillow between your knees to support your lower back, and a pillow under your head that cradles the curve of your neck. You’ll wake up fresher than a mint on a hotel bed.
7. Sowing your wild oats
A landmark research study released in Spine Journal reported that there is now official advice on how to have sex if you suffer from back pain.
The fix: The labcoats say lower back pain sufferers should do it doggy-style, whereas men with pain in extension should avoid doggy and try to use the missionary position by supporting themselves on their elbows and not their hands.
8. Fancy footwear
Wearing shoes that “look cool” usually results in exacerbation, or creation, of serious back and knee pain in those who exercise on a daily basis and anyone who works on concrete floors for a living. The ground reaction forces are transmitted from the floor, right into your joints.
Ignoring your footwear will prematurely wear out your joints, leading to osteoarthritis and lower back disc degeneration.
The fix: Those who run or engage in cardio should change their shoes every 500 miles, where as those working on their feet all day need to change their safety boots or protective footwear every 12 months.
9. Riding the escalator
People get injured while going down the escalator because of the illusion that they are off balance, since the escalator is moving while everything around it is stationary.
The fix: Place your hand on the handrail first and it will help your brain get used to the step movement. Then promptly step onto the escalator in the middle of the step.
10. Sneezing your back out
Sneezing might be different from lifting, but it still exerts tremendous pressure on the discs of the back. Sneezing while sitting makes the strain eight times worse.
The fix: Always make sure you sneeze standing up and, when you sneeze, bend your knees slightly to absorb the intra-discal forces of the impact. Cover your mouth, too.
11. Not paying attention
These injuries occur at a time when your muscles are shut off. This “muscle inhibition” is caused by one of three things: pain, repeated movement/ trauma, or joint arthritis.
The fix: Preventive maintenance with your health practitioner will correct these weaknesses so that issues can be corrected before injury has a chance to strike.
Find health advice and more in every issue of TRAIN magazine.