Can You Do Your Own Physical Therapy?

If back or neck pain have become your constant companion, your body is trying to tell you something important. Perhaps the message is that you’re not practicing good posture and need to stand up straighter. Maybe it’s telling you that you need a better mattress or pillow, or that you need to get up and walk around instead of sitting at your desk all day long.

The longer it takes you to listen to your body, the more likely it is that your pain will get worse, and that you’re going to need help to make it go away.

By paying attention to the messages you’re receiving, you give yourself a chance to address them on your own, acting — in essence — as your own physical therapist. It won’t always help but it can certainly give you a sense of whether your problem is a matter of habit or whether you have a physical problem that needs to be diagnosed by our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey.

Where Do You Start?

Posture and daily activities are the first things that deserve your attention. Ask somebody to take a few photos of you (without you knowing) as you go about your day.

Take a look at how you’re carrying yourself. Are your shoulders hunched forward or are you standing up straight? When you’re seated, where are your shoulders? Are you sitting up straight? Do you have enough support?

Similarly, think about how you are carrying things throughout the day. Do you carry a briefcase or heavy handbag that is throwing your body into an uncomfortable, possibly harmful position? Modifying and correcting your body mechanics is one way to eliminate pain caused by improper alignment.

If you find that you’re not carrying yourself in a healthy way, add some stretching and bending exercises to relieve muscle tension, then make sure that you’re doing shoulder rolls, shoulder blade squeezes, and arching your back several times each day.

Other exercises to help relieve back and neck pain include rolling your head in both directions, pulling your chin in repeatedly, and bending your head towards each shoulder. Repeat each exercise ten times.

There are other aspects of positional awareness that can make a big difference in how you feel on a daily basis. These include:

  • Position your feet with one in front of the other when standing to do dishes, ironing, cooking or working at a workbench.
  • Use a lumbar support pillow while sitting at your desk as well as while driving.
  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees.
  • When bending down to pick something up or put something away down low, bend your knees and use your legs, not your back. Keep anything that you’re lifting close to your body.
  • When sitting at a computer, make sure that your monitor is at eye level and keep your head level. Make sure that your arms are supported.

These are just a few suggestions that can address pain that comes from bad habits. If correcting the way that you are carrying yourself doesn’t relieve your pain, you may be dealing with a structural problem that needs the attention of a spine specialist.

Contact our office for an appointment.

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