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Back pain: It's not always your mattress to blame

With all the daily wear and tear we put on our bodies why do people still blame the mattress?

We haven’t gotten a blog out in a while so I thought it was appropriate to highlight some of the beauties this month has to offer as a nice “breaking the silence” piece. For starters, we are all aware that we have Mother’s Day this month (shout out to all the mommas!), but did you know it is also Military Appreciation month, Motorcycle Awareness month, Barbecue month, and Skin Cancer Awareness Month (there are several others)? Let’s not even begin with those gorgeous “May Flowers” the “April Showers” have brought us. Sunshine, pollen, birds, bees, backyard BBQs, and back pain finding their way out of hiding this beautiful season. Wait…. back pain?? Yes, that’s right, I said back pain!

May is one of the busiest months for back pain complaints! One of the many reasons that May is also considered Better Sleep Month. The Better Sleep Council wanted to raise awareness about the benefits of better sleep and how poor sleep can disrupt our lives…. ta-da, now we have a national month! But we want you to be aware that it goes further than just sleep. Better Sleep month has helped so many people realize the importance of sleep and having a quality mattress, but it has also created an era of “mattress shaming”. Your mattress isn’t close to being the only culprit with aiding in back pain problems and can sometimes not be the issue at all! So, keeping that in mind let’s look at some of the daily activities we all do that are known to cause back problems.

So lets start getting ready for my day...

First of all, I want to start with one of the first things I did today…..brushed my teeth. I don’t know what the compulsive need to lean over the bathroom sink to “see myself brushing closer” is all about but I am guilty! Maybe it has to do with my horrible eyesight, maybe it has to do with being 5’11” and having a Polly Pocket sink? Either way significantly leaning over the sink to brush my teeth, apply my make-up, wax my brows, tweeze, do dishes, clean mirrors, etc. all adds up where the lower back is concerned! 10 or more minutes of having our backs bent forward 30 or more degrees puts so much stress on our lower backs. And we aren’t limited to just sink activities here! Think about what you are leaning over throughout the day and try to reduce these actions when you can. Cooking over the stove, standing at a work station/table that is too short for you, doing a puzzle, shaving, and doing the laundry are all scenarios where you could find yourself adding to back pain without realizing it.

Another thing I personally did this morning was rough house with my dogs. I am the genius that thought it was a great idea to rescue a puppy…. twice lol. I have a giant one and a half year old Rottweiler/Great Dane and a three month old St. Bernard/German Shepard at home. They don’t play small is all I’m going to say! Often times, like many reading this, I get so caught up in those beautiful and priceless moments doing what I want to do and forget that my body will suffer for it later. I am undoubtedly seeing this more as I age and am finally getting past the stage where I just deny the laws of time and live like I’m still 20. Whether it is kids, grandkids, or even your beloved fur babies try to be cognizant of what level of rough housing your body can handle in a healthy way. Being active is great and no one wants to sacrifice all these precious moments that will not last forever, but everything is better in moderation. If you are down and out from back or body pain, chances are you might miss out on the next round with your loved ones.

Now on to work...

After getting ready this morning and locking the house up, I drove to work. My commute to work may only be 5 minutes but it is suggested that an hour or more in your vehicle each day can increase and sometimes even be the cause of back pain. We don’t realize how bad our driving postures get on long commutes. The plus side is there are several different things we can do here with this one. My first suggestion is to convince the 90lb fur baby that she isn’t a lap dog and doesn’t need a driver side view of the road trip. Next, ensure that you are sitting in the correct driving position. Sit straight up with your back completely against the seat and legs down! Often times we tend to lean more to one side of our seat or another, or sit in the middle of the seat giving our backs absolutely no support what so ever. Lastly, you may want to invest in a travel pillow designed to support your lower back. You would be surprised the difference a cervical pillow (Yes we sell those here) can make during a long drive! No different than having a good mattress throughout your night. Many of your vehicles come with added features such as seat heating/cooling, seat belt side bolsters, numerous moving/positioning options, and more. If they are there, use them! You paid for the whole care so why not use the whole car?!

And now, in this very moment, I am sitting here at my desk typing up this blog for our website. As I sit here, I realize how terrible my body posture is. Feet crossed under my desk, head leaned to one shoulder, upper back slouched down. I have absolutely no right to lecture anyone on computer posture lol. However, this is something to take into consideration later when I am trying to relax beside the bonfire planned for tonight…. I have the computer posture of an earthworm. Ha-ha! Found the biggest contributor to my back pain! All these hours I clock in behind a desk crunching numbers, filing invoices, doing paperwork, writing up expenses…. sitting like I’m a blob of Jell-O just spooned away from the bowl! Really helps that I have a fantastic mattress at home waiting to cradle me to sleep at the end of the day.

Does your effort to improve health always help?

Not just our home and work lives contribute to back aches and pains. We need to keep in mind all aspects of our physical lives impact our bodies. Even what we think of as completely “good” for us, such as exercise and non-contact sports. Doing your exercises wrong or even doing the wrong exercises for your body type/physical conditions/medical disorders can really do a number on you. And just because our non-contact sports don’t require us to be as physical as some such as football (where we take down and tackle opponents like they’re our siblings running off with the last fruit snack), they can still cause a substantial amount of stress and injury to the back area. Golf and Tennis are prime examples of non-contact sports that require a “winding” motion in the lower and mid back regions that cause a lot of tension and muscle strain.

Our daily strolls can even pack quite a punch in the back! Walking is undoubtedly great for you and when given the side-by-side comparison is normally better for back aches and pains than just sitting and relaxing. However, just as with driving and sitting, there is a proper posture, speed, and terrain to keep in mind while walking. If you suffer from lower back pains, it is not the greatest idea to go on a demanding jog or a hike up a winding wooded path or even a brisk walk up a couple flights of stairs. If this is you, don’t suffer through it. Create the comfortable scene for yourself. Slip on some comfy gym shoes with plenty of insole/padding and walk on a straight and even side walk. Avoid slants, holes, and uneven surfaces such as gravel, rock, sand, and broken walk ways. Try to remind yourself that things you take with you can also impact your walk. Things such as pets (yes, the majority of them pull, yank, or just plain try to dart off randomly ripping your soul from your body), strollers (this is a similar motion to mowing which we will touch base on in a couple seconds), bags/backpacks, and even beverage containers all play roles in adding strain to the back while walking. Walking can greatly benefit a person, just make sure you don’t overdo it. Again… everything is better in moderation!

I bet you didn’t know that smoking is not only a formidable habit, but it also can be directly linked to back aches and pains. Genuine research from qualified researchers have linked the two together since 2001. Not only are you damaging your lungs and heart, but your poor circulation from smoking is in no way contributing to the stress you are already experiencing daily. My advice is to put that habit to bed, PERMANENTLY! Nothing else to say here…it is gross…STOP!

It doesn't stop there...

It is finally that season for not only mowing but gardening as well. I could see if those of you that are blessed enough to roam your yards in the luxury of a riding lawn mower, aren’t too worried about this part of the blog, but there is a giant majority of the population that still use push mower varieties. Unless you are riding your mower for an hour or more, just like driving, posture is going to take precedence here. Don’t be afraid to grab that travel back pillow either! There is no shame in being comfortable and most importantly safe. Now for all you push mower peoples out there, remember what Spice Girls have taught us and “push it real good”…. well the mower that is of course! Yes, you can mow wrong. Mowers seem to come in a one size fits all world for the most part. So being hunched over that mower can do a lot of damage after its all said and done. If you can’t hire a lawn care service or afford to pay for a riding lawn mower than just do what I do… sucker your younger brother into it because he owes you anyway for keeping all his secrets lol! Why else would God put all these young able-bodied siblings and children on earth? Don’t question his smarts! Utilize what He has given you people!! And yes, I do understand when the dirt outside is just calling your name, screaming at you to dress it up for the season. The bees, hovering about, are just begging you for a getaway oasis, begging for vast gardens with plentiful flowers teeming with pollen to dip their little fuzzy booties in! Birds flying about, looking for feeders and nesting spots to give their families all the best views. But again… moderation is key! Don’t overdo it! Rome wasn’t built in a day and even the Lord took seven! Nobody, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, NOBODY is expecting you to completely start/finish and/or revamp your gardens and yards in a days’ time. So put the cape back on the hook, its only adding to the weight of the day and causing more back aches and pains!

Your diet also plays a crucial role in not only overall health but wellness as well! Many foods you consume contain so many different ingredients, chemicals, etc. that most of us cannot even name or pronounce them, let alone even realize they are in them. Ingredients, foods, and chemicals that can cause inflammation in the body. Decreasing your lower back pain specifically can be as simple as reducing or even avoiding the following foods:

Ø Red Meat

Ø White Bread

Ø Pastas

Ø Sugary Drinks and Snacks

Ø Caffeine (yes L I said it!)

Ø Alcohol (whether it is 5 o’clock in the Democratic Republic of Congo or not…sorry people)

Avoidance isn’t the only tool to use for dieting. Knowing what is good or beneficial for your body is extremely important. And I don’t mean just going to your local Wal-Chain Store and getting some good ole fashioned Flintstone Vitamins (YUM!), but educating yourself on what foods have helpful properties for your focal interest. Here are some but not all that have anti-inflammatory properties:

Ø Green Veggies

Ø Nuts

Ø Fish

Ø Fruits

When in doubt avoid processed foods! And absolutely avoid energy drinks. Changing your diet won’t only benefit your back.

Remember that no activity can be far worse than heavy activity. Studies show that being inactive for three days or more increases all over body aches and pains. Rest can be really pertinent to managing pain but should never be the sole tool you use! Do I even need to repeat the “moderation” part again? Try to keep activities that you are capable of doing while laying down, out of bed as well. Whether that is reading, gaming, card playing, sketching, writing, or making funny faces at your “11 going on 30-year-old” daughter after she turns her back to you and leaves the room, these all can become habits that add to back aches and pains! Always keep hobbies that make you happy, but find healthy and safe ways to enjoy them that won’t cost you later. It is extremely difficult and nearly impossible without the correct bed accessories (powerbases are life!! ) to turn anything other than sleeping into a bed approved activity.

My conclusion...

And as we come to the end of the blog here, I want to remind everyone to STOP MATTRESS BLAMING!!!! Your mattress could indeed be the culprit, more often than not if you have bought from ANYONE other than the Pike’s (but you already knew that J). However, unless you perform all your other normal daily activities perfectly, its more than likely not the only thing that could be the issue. In fact, it could be your sleep posture amongst all the other activities listed. So why exactly does everyone pick on the mattress?? How do you sleep at night? Stomach sleeper, side sleeper, back sleep, dinosaur pajama sleeper? The best sleep position is on your back, and you get bonus points for using a knee pillow behind the knee caps (peep our All-Purpose Knee and Body Pillows). If you experience stiffness is your lower back, it is more than likely a bad sleep position! Put some real thought and consideration into changing your sleep position to diagnose these issues, as well as taking all you have learned from this blog and apply some of it. You would be surprised what is and is not your mattresses’ fault! One thing is for certain… comfortable sleeping is important and you deserve it. But you also deserve to know how to help yourself avoid aches and pains during all your other daily repeated activities. Thanks for reading everyone. Stay blessed!