Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fixing your Aching Back, Neck and Shoulders

I am blogging while sitting on my new gadget--the Gaiam Balance Ball Chair. I am pretty much willing to try anything at this point to fix my aching back, neck and shoulders, even sitting on a ball. So far, so good. The box came yesterday from Amazon and is easy to assemble. It has a base and and one of those exercise balls that you sit on that is supposed to keep your posture upright and in the correct position for using a computer. My main complaint with it at this early date is that the ball is kind of small. However, the instructions say this is normal and that after 24-48 hours, you can use the air pump that comes with it to make it bigger. I did that this morning and it seems to be better. If you are over six feet, the small size of the ball might not make the height high enough for you.

The ball chair also came with an exercise book that showed how to use the chair for exercise when you want to take a break. The seated twists they show do seem to help in-between typing if you have a tight neck and shoulders. As for the spine streches that have you lying across the ball in various positions, I am really not so sure I wouldn't fall off. The base of the chair is in the way for me but if you take the ball out, it is easier. There are also pictures of a model doing push-ups and donkey kicks that look more like a gym work-out but I am not up to trying those out at the moment. Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with the chair and hope that as time goes on, it keeps my posture in check.

I have blogged about pain issues before that are caused by the computer and found that there are a number of good books out there that have helped. These include Stretching Anatomy, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Back Pain, and 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot.

If you have better or different suggestions, drop them in the comments.



Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

What an odd looking contraption.

I'll stick with my kneeler chair.

1:28 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

i think, as with most exercise routines, you have to give it some time for adaptation. six to eight weeks is the normal adaptation timeframe for the human body to adapt to new stresses.

i found that inversion boots really helped not only to stop pain in my lower back but to strengthen it also.

you might want to try kettlebell workouts also. extremely low impact, but progressively intense.

most people are passive to back pain, believing that to stress an injury will make it worse, but most back pain, outside of bone, nerve or muscular damage is due to instability. kettlebells are a great way to progressively strengthen the lower back and the rest of the body also, but keep in mind the six to eight week rule.

2:40 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger Mary E. Glynn said...

If you have better or different suggestions, drop them in the comments.

Professional massage.

6:42 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger nora said...

3 things have helped us... Pilates and Yoga with a private instructor who understands body mechanics (I'm a biomechanical engineer so that helps my confidence) AND self-massage of trigger points. Best book so far = The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition (I got my copy at amazon). I had tremendous pain in my lower back, buttock, thigh and calf (really all the way to my foot), I was nearly convinced that I had a slipped disk or pinched nerve. Although I haven't completely corrected the triggers for that trigger point, the pain is about a 1 or 2 occasionally whereas before it was a 9 or 10 constantly no matter what I did or what I took.

6:45 PM, August 25, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to purchase this book this weekend. You may want to check it out.

8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back

7:37 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger Zorro said...

I've never tried one but I hear that inversion tables are awesome. Also, hanging upside-down with gravity boots like DeNiro in the remake of Cape Fear.

8:42 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger Unknown said...

The worst thing that people do the most often is buy a cheap chair. Don't skimp. Mine was $280 used and I also got a $20 NASA butt-pillow.

But by far the best thing I've done for myself is invest in swinging arms to float my keyboard and monitor where *I* want them once I'm comfortable. I highly recommend Ergotron.

10:06 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger Kurt said...

I nearly bought one of these when I saw it mentioned on Instapundit a few days ago. I put it in my cart and thought about it, but decided I didn't feel like spending the money just yet. Nevertheless, the idea still interests me, as do other things like standing at my desk instead of sitting. My issue isn't with back pain--it's just a worry that I shouldn't be sitting as much as I do all day.

With regard to back pain, another inexpensive thing you might want to look into if you haven't already is The Miracle Ball Method, which consists mainly of breathing and relaxation exercises conducted while resting various part of the body on one or two balls of approximately 3 inches in diameter.

10:52 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger mickeypavic said...

Doesn't sound like much but a memory foam mattress and a latex pillow greatly helped my back.

11:52 PM, August 25, 2011  
Blogger Eric said...

Bought one. I'll try anything. Thanks!

9:51 AM, August 26, 2011  
Blogger Mary said...

Two things worked wonders for me after 15 years of pain and stiffness from a herniated disk:

1. Trigger point injections from a physiatrist (an M.D.) at Mass General to relax the muscles, and

2. A weekly hour-long pilates class for core strengthening.

This was after I tried nearly everything--chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, etc. I was almost at the point of giving up. If you can get the right person to do the trigger point injections, they will be able to trigger a twitch response, which increases blood flow to the muscle and relaxes it.

8:44 PM, August 26, 2011  
Blogger TPO Kahuna said...

Since I spend the majority of my waking hours in front of a computer screen, and I need to change positions frequently, I designed and built a custom rail and counterweight system to hold my iMac screen at any distance, elevation and angle. Expensive, but far more flexible than the normal ergonomic arms. It does the job, and keeps my neck pain at bay.

5:00 AM, August 27, 2011  
Blogger efhjgsekfg said...

no nonsense, empirically based, and you don't have to pay anyone for treatment.

also foam rolling.

12:50 PM, August 27, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes. My wife and I bought a foam mattress from Costco. It ran us about $900 for a king size. We are very happy with it. My wife has MS and she has sleep issues along with her back of course. A plus on the side is bed bugs cannot live in a foam mattress. (I hate bugs.)

3:23 PM, August 27, 2011  
Blogger Steve Parker, M.D. said...

What helped me is the Core Performance program of Mark Verstegen. It does require a substantial committment.


Disclosure: I don't know Verstegen and was not paid for this endorsement.

11:20 AM, August 30, 2011  
Blogger philmon said...

Pinched nerve. Neck. Ow. I'm looking at stuff like this, too, as I'm certain posture is a major contributing factor.

I thought that part of the point of the ball was that it moves and you have to use all kinds of muscles unconsiously to keep it upright. Does the "chair" let the ball move?

11:08 AM, August 31, 2011  

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