Can Your Sleep Position Affect Back Pain?

Back pain can disrupt sleep. Inversely, poor sleeping posture can exasperate back pain creating a vicious cycle. Sleep is important for our overall health and everyone is vulnerable to back pain. Around 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Thirty-seven percent of people also report that back pain interferes with their ability to sleep. We will go over ways to improve sleep posture.

Sleeping on a side is the most popular sleep position. It can put strain on the side of the neck and spine though. To improve this position, draw your knees up towards your chest just a bit. Then sleep with a pillow between your knees. Also, try to keep your head positioned in the middle of the pillow to avoid having your head propped up too high.

Belly sleeping is generally not recommended for back pain as it interferes with the natural curvature of the spine the most. However, if this is how you most comfortably sleep, there are ways to improve this position. One is to put a slim pillow under your lower abdomen, this will help keep the spine in a more natural curve. A slim pillow under your shins could also help with leg support.

Back sleeping is an easy fix. Just place a pillow under your knees to help maintain the natural curve of the spine.

Back pain and sleep issues are connected. Try these positions to see if they help ease back pain. Remember, we are here to help. We can sit down with you and figure out what may be causing your back pain. From there we can create a program to help alleviate it and strategize to prevent it from happening again.

Biking Health Benefits

Active Commuting Linked to Numerous Health Benefits

A large study recently published in the British Medical Journal finds that active commuting, particularly biking and walking, is associated with multiple health benefits. Results show people who cycle to work have a 46 percent lower risk of heart disease and a 45 percent lower risk of cancer compared to those who have a sedentary commute, like a car or bus ride. Risk of premature death was also lowered by 41 percent. In addition, walking to work also has its benefits, lowering heart disease by 27 percent.

Study authors analyzed commuting habits and health records of more than a quarter of a million people over a five year span. The researchers say initiatives to encourage and support active commuting, especially by cycling, could reduce risk of death and the burden of important chronic conditions. Any opportunity for exercise and physical activity is a good one.

Source: Morales-Celis C, Lyall D, Welsh P, et al. Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study. BMJ, 2017; 357: j1456.

Prevent Injury While Gardening

It’s time to bring out the green thumb because gardening season is upon us. Many enjoy gardening and its numerous health benefits. However, it is important to be mindful of the stress and strain activities such as digging, planting, weeding, and raking can cause. The back, knees, neck, and shoulders can be especially vulnerable to injury.

Here are some tips to minimize and prevent injury while enjoying gardening:

  1. Don’t forget to warm up before you begin your gardening activities. A brisk walk and some stretches should do the trick.
  2. Be aware of how your body is feeling as you work. Change positions, switch activities and take breaks frequently to avoid stiffness and cramping.
  3. Use knee pads or a gardening pad for comfort. When kneeling, consider only kneeling on one knee and keeping the other foot on the ground for better balance and posture. If kneeling or leaning down is too uncomfortable, use elevated planters for your gardening.
  4. Use a garden cart or wheelbarrow to move heavy plants or tools. If you have to lift something or when pulling weeds, use good body mechanics. Bend your knees, keep your feet about shoulder-width apart, and keep your back straight.
  5. Similar to before gardening, end your session with a walk and some light stretching.

An old Chinese proverb says “He who plants a garden, plants happiness.” Take these precautions to make sure you stay safe and healthy too!

Higher Risk of Health Problems for Night Owls

A recent study finds that night owls are more at risk for health problems such as diabetes, sarcopenia (a condition where the body gradually loses muscle mass), and metabolic syndrome (a collection of health conditions that increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke). This is true even if the night owls sleep the same amount of hours as early risers.

The study included more than 1600 participants ranging in age from 47 to 59. These individuals provided information about their sleep habits and were categorized as either a night owl, early riser, or somewhere in the middle. The participants also underwent tests to evaluate their health.

Male late nighters were more likely to have diabetes or sarcopenia, while female night owls had an increase in belly fat and a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, in comparison to early risers. The study authors attribute this to the night owls poorer sleep quality and tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, late-night eating, and sedentary lifestyle.

Source: Yu J, Yun C, Ahn J, et al. Evening chronotype is associated with metabolic disorders and body composition in middle-aged adults. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, April 2015; 100 (4): 1494-1502.


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