Long shifts can be a pain. Literally! Have you ever had a long workweek and found that your ankles were swollen, your neck was stiff, and your body just ached all over? While some pains can be tolerated or eased with medication, others linger and can affect you both mentally and physically. And when it comes to naming worst offenders, we’d like to nominate back pain as being the worst.
Any chronic back pain should be evaluated by a specialist. But if you’re just trying to get through your shift, then we suggest trying one of these tips for dealing with a backache:
- Ice it. During the first 2-3 days of pain, put an ice pack on your back to help reduce inflammation.
- Heat it. After an initial 2-3 days of icing your back, switch to using a heating pad or taking hot showers. The heat will help the muscles to relax and loosen.
- Hydrate. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Minimize your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Dehydration does strange things to people and can often make body pain worse.
- Keep moving. Although you should avoid lifting heavy objects and doing twisting motions with your spine, it is essential to keep moving. Otherwise, your muscles will begin to tighten and stiffen. Ask your doctor which exercises are safe for you to do and make sure to do them at least 15 minutes a day.
- Get some shut-eye. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night will help your body to prioritize the healing process. Try some relaxation techniques (meditation, deep breathing, etc...) if you have trouble falling asleep.
- Stand up straight. Your momma was right when she told you to quit slouching! Good posture helps to relieve general back pain. (Bonus: practicing clenching your abdominal muscles throughout the day. A strong core will help to improve your posture!)
- Replace your shoes. Are your shoes worn out, too big, too small, without padding, or lacking in heel and arch support? Improper footwear affects posture and spinal placement. Skip the ballet flats, high heels, and flip-flops for a week and instead wear your gym shoes. Or, head to a footwear speciality store to have your gait and foot shape analyzed for proper footwear.
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