At our New Jersey spine specialty practice, we frequently hear our patients tell us that their lower back pain has led to weight gain or a general feeling of malaise, and further questioning reveals that they’ve been spending a lot of their time either in bed or on the couch. Though we can certainly appreciate the guilty pleasure of binge watching hours of a favorite show and reveling in the luxury of pillows and high thread-count sheets, doing so is not what we prescribe for recovery or rehabilitation. The idea of bedrest as recuperative is an old one, and recent studies have shown that unless it is limited to small doses, it may actually do more harm than good. Here are a few reasons why.
• Increases sleep disturbance, apathy and depression – It may be nice to take a break, but if you stay in bed too long you run the risk of disrupting your sleep cycle, and even falling prey to depression and anxiety. Moving around and getting things done – even small things – will motivate you to recover and get back into your normal routine far more than lying in bed will.
• Makes your lungs and heart work much harder – Your cardiovascular system is much healthier when you are upright and active. When you are horizontal, your heart has to beat much more quickly in order to move blood around to all of your body parts, and your lungs have a harder time keeping themselves free of excess fluid. Your blood has a lower level of oxygen and is less efficient at clearing toxins from your body, and that will disrupt the efficiency of the healing process.
• Digestion – Lying in bed and not moving around makes you much more prone to constipation, and that just adds additional discomfort.
• Muscle and bone weakness – One of the main reasons that you need to keep moving is that staying still for too long decreases one density and muscle strength. Much of back pain is a result of weak core muscles and allowing yourself to stay prone for too long will allow your muscle strength to deteriorate. It can also lead to a loss of balance and coordination, and this can increase your chances of injuring yourself.
Though there is no doubt that rest is important to recovery, research has shown that for healing back pain it is best limited to a few hours at a time and only for a day or two. When you are resting, ease the strain on your back by using pillows for support, especially under your knees when you’re lying on your back or under your hips if you’re on your stomach.
At our New Jersey spine specialty practice, our goal is to get you up on your feet and back to your normal activities as quickly as possible. Contact us today to set up an appointment for a consultation and the right remedy for you.