Total Back Newsletter

Improve your Back Health with Proper Sleep

John Naumann Back Pain, Neck Pain Comments Off on Improve your Back Health with Proper Sleep

How to improve back health with proper sleep

Bad sleeping positionOur neck and back health is strongly influenced by how we sleep and what we sleep on.  Ideally we should be spending approximately 8 hours a day in sleep.  This provides the time for the body to recover from a day’s worth of activities.  So one of the key elements of helping people treat back and neck pain is to identify how they sleep.

There are 3 primary sleeping positions, back, side and stomach.  Each position has its pro’s and con’s  from an overall health standpoint, this post focuses mainly on how it relates to the back and neck pain.

Back Sleeper

Back sleeping is the ideal position for better back health.  This position helps decompress the spine from our daily standing and seated postures. It is important to make sure you address proper neck positioning, you do not want it too high or too low creating awkward neck positions.

Side Sleeper

Side sleeping is the most common sleeping position for most people.  With proper pillow placement it can help provide a proper position for good spinal alignment.  Placing a pillow between your knees and proper placement  for you head will support the proper alignment.  Just be aware side sleeping encourages more compression on you body’s organs and nerve supply.  This can result in some numbness and discomfort.  If you are a side sleeper it is recommended that you switch from side to side to balance out the pressure of side sleeping

Stomach Sleeper

From the perspective of proper neck and back health, this position should be avoided. Stomach sleepers are not able to keep proper head and neck alignment, resulted in the spine being put in a twisted position and also increases the pressure in the lower back.

How to train your body to get used to a new sleeping position

Saying you should side sleep or back sleep is easier said than done.  Your body has gotten into a habit of sleeping a certain way and when you are asleep you and you will naturally move into that position when you are asleep.  The key to training yourself into a new sleeping position is the use of pillows.  It is not fool-proof but it can be effective.  The training is performed similar to how your body has trained itself to sense the edge of the bed so you don’t fall off.

If you are a back sleeper and want to train yourself to sleep on your side, maybe due to snoring, place a pillow under one shoulder.  As your body sleeps and tries to lay to its back, it will sense the pillow and roll back to the side position.

If you are a side sleeper and want to train yourself to sleep on your back, you can start in a back sleeping position with two pillow directly under you arms.  This will provide the sensory input to avoid rolling to your side.

If you are a stomach sleeper, use the same technique as above to train yourself to back sleep.  To transition to side sleeping use a body pillow or take a pillow and wedge it between you body and arms (hugging position).

You may have to do slight modification of these techniques to get it to work for you but you should be able to train yourself to get in a proper sleeping position.

How do you address what you sleep on?

What we sleep on is as important as how we sleep.  A proper fitting mattress and pillow are very important to helping support proper body position when sleeping.  There is no single rule of thumb on how to achieve this.  The thing to keep in mind, is if you have a good consistent sleeping position and you suddenly experience neck and/or back pain then it is time to look at the mattress and pillow.

Is the mattress old and worn out?  Mattresses over 10 years old begin to lose their ability to provide consistent support.  If it is this old, consider replacing it.

Is the mattress too soft or too firm?  Everyone is different when it comes to this.  Find out what works best for you.  Most mattress companies have a good return policy and will allow you the ability to return or trade in a mattress within 30 days of purchase.  This time frame is adequate to identify if the mattress will work for you in the long run.

Replace your pillow regularly.  Pillows break down too, so you should look at replacing your pillow if you start to experience neck pain.  Again firm or soft, just make sure it encourages good neck and spine alignment.


Low Back Pain in Young Athletes

John Naumann Back Pain Comments Off on Low Back Pain in Young Athletes

Back Pain in Young Athletes is different than in Adults

Low back pain and kidsBack pain is not exclusive to adults.  In fact at least 15% of all young athletes experience back pain.  This statistic is higher in certain sports like football, gymnastics and volleyball.  But back pain in young athletes is often very different than in adults.

The injuries youth athletes are significantly different than adults.  Injuries to the spinous process are significantly higher in young athletes, while disc injuries are more common in adults. Adults typically have fewer injuries to the spinous process, but incur more injuries to the vertebrae disc.

Children experience periods of rapid growth, soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments are unable to keep pace with the rate of bone growth, resulting in muscle imbalances and a decrease in flexibility.  This can place young athletes at greater risk for injury.

Although injuries are a part of sport, there are ways to reduce the risk of injury in young athletes. Recognizing risk factors are a key component to reducing injury.  Prior to the start of a sport season, an evaluation may identify certain risk factors, such as previous injuries that have not been fully rehabilitated or muscle weaknesses or inflexibility. These areas can then be addressed prior to the start of the season. Additionally, athletes should start general strength and fitness conditioning several weeks before the start of the season.   Increases in the frequency and intensity of training should be gradual to allow for safe adaptation to the demands of the sport.

During periods of growth, young athletes are prone to loss of flexibility and muscle imbalances that can predispose them to injury.  Because of this concern, young athletes should reduce the amount of training and the volume of repetitive motions during growth spurts. Certain sports require maneuvers that place a lot of stress on the posterior spine, such as layback spins in figure skating  and walkovers in gymnastics. Athletes may need to limit the number of repetitions of these maneuvers, particularly if there is pain associated with these maneuvers. Core-strengthening exercises and stretches for tight hamstrings and hip flexors may help reduce the risk of low back pain.

10 Worst Jobs for Low Back Pain

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Bulging Disc, Herniated Disc, Neck Pain, Physical Therapy Comments Off on 10 Worst Jobs for Low Back Pain


10 worst jobs for back painAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics sprain and strain injuries are the most common injuries and the back is 2nd most common place for injuries.  Over the years jobs have gotten safer to minimize risk but there are certain jobs that are inherently have a higher risk for back injuries.  Here is a list of the top ten jobs that have a high risk for causing back pain.

  1. Truck Drivers – The risk for this group is the combination of prolonged sitting combined with the need to move heavy loads.
  2. Construction workers – The risk is high in this group due to prolonged bent over positions and working with awkward and sometimes heavy loads.
  3. Landscapers – Landscapers often work with a lot of twisting motions and are often working in bent over positions moving heavy dirt, rocks, and plants.
  4. Police officers – Very similar to truck drivers, going from a prolonged seated position in their vehicle to going into explosive movements to apprehend suspects.
  5. Firefighters – The equipment that firefighters have to carry can be awkward and require forceful movements, increasing the risk of injury.
  6. EMT – The need to go from a seated position to transferring people can lead to back pain
  7. Farmers – Farmers often have to work with heavy equipment and also do a lot of prolonged sitting on their machinery.
  8. Auto mechanics –  Prolonged bent over positions and awkward positions in confined spaces can lead to back pain
  9. Nurses – Nurses are often responsible to transfer, bathe, and dress patients.  This often leads to awkward positioning and can lead to back pain.
  10. Office workers – Believe it or not, working at a computer workstation most of your day is bad for the back and can lead to back pain.

As you can see, the jobs that go from a prolonged seated posture to moving heavy loads or awkward movements are the most likely to cause back pain.  Make sure you stretch before going from a seated posture to lifting and you will reduce the risk of injury.  Are you dealing with back pain?  Contact us 480-633-8293.

March Madness Contest 2016

John Naumann Uncategorized Comments Off on March Madness Contest 2016

Welcome to The Center For Total Back Care’s 1st Annual March Madness Contest!

march madness

Contest Rules:

  • Visit our contest page each Monday during March Madness (March 14, March 21, and March 28) for our update game picks.
  • Simply choose the winner of each match-up
  • Each match-up winner you pick will get you one ticket into our March Madness Contest Raffle (The more wins you pick, the better the chance for you to win!)


Final Week Entries in by April 2nd!

Grand Prize – $100 Visa Card

Consolation Prize – 2 Movie Tickets


March Madness

Stop Back Pain at Work

John Naumann Back Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on Stop Back Pain at Work

Zinc coating - forward posture strapping to crane (1) 2011-02-25_12-44-31_521

Back Pain at Work: Tips to Stop work-related back pain

Back pain at work is nothing new.  No one is immune whether you work in an office or in construction, everyone could experience back pain at one time or another on the job.  Prevention is the key.  Here are some tips:

Office Job related Back Pain

Office related back pain often comes from long hours of poor static postures.  Use this tips to help address your poor static posture.

  1. Set up your work area to promote a proper seated posture. (Refer to “5 tips to make sure your workstation is set up properly”)
  2. Take stretch breaks.  Try these stretches below to break up tension created by static posture.
    1. Chin Tuck Stretch
    2. Trapezius Stretch
    3. Chest Stretch
Labor Job related Back Pain

People that work in labor related jobs have the advantage of moving continuously, which encourages good blood flow to muscles and tissues.  The challenges people in labor positions is preparing their body for the task at hand.  Here are some tips to address preparing the body for labor tasks

  1. When arriving on a job site take 5 minutes to go through “Dynamic Stretching”.  Dynamic stretching is the type of stretching an athlete will go through to prepare for their training or competition.  Labor Jobs are the Industrial Athletes!  Try these stretches below to avoid labor related injuries
    1. Lunge with twist
    2. Walking hamstring stretch
    3. Air Squats (perform 10)
    4. Shoulder stretch

Preventing back pain at work can be as easy as taking a few minutes to stretch!

Managing Back Pain during Pregnancy

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on Managing Back Pain during Pregnancy
Back pain during pregnancy

Wikimedia, Silhouette of Pregnant Woman

One of the most common complaints of women during pregnancy is back pain.  Back pain during pregnancy is almost a forgone conclusion, considering all the changes that are going on in the body to prepare for birth. First you have a new life growing in your body which will throw off your body’s center of mass encouraging poor posture. Next the ligaments in the pelvis begin to loosen to prepare for the birth, this further challenges balance and posture.

Here are a couple of tips to help address back pain during pregnancy:

  1. If working at a computer all day, make sure to have it set up to encourage proper posture.  Many businesses work with ergonomists to help their employees.
  2. Try sleeping on the left side.  This increases blood circulation from mother to child and will alleviate back pain. Stick pillow under belly and between knees as needed to relieve back stress.
  3. Wear proper shoes.  It’s time to put the heels away and wear more comfortable, posture supportive, shoes.
  4. Avoid bending at waist to pick things up.  Many pregnant women in the later trimesters have to squat to pick things up anyways.  Continue to keep the legs strong by exercising such as walks and performing air squats (place hands on supportive surface for balance.  Proper lifting mechanics can reduce the risk of injury to back, especially during pregnancy.

If you or someone you know is experiencing back pain during pregnancy, feel free to contact us at 480-633-8293.

Lift like an infant to protect your back

John Naumann Back Pain, Bulging Disc Comments Off on Lift like an infant to protect your back

baby-lifting-weightsLift like an infant to protect your back?  Are you crazy?!?

So what does “lifting like an infant” do to protect your back?  Well, have you every tossed a ball to a 2-year-old and watch them pick the ball up?  They walk up to the ball really close and perfectly squat down to pick up the ball up, keeping it close to the body as they stand.  Nobody taught them this is the right way to do it, they just naturally do it!

We actually “un-learn” how to properly lift by getting lazy and this comes from our improved balance as we get older.  If you roll the same ball to a bunch of 6 year olds, almost every one of them would invariably bend at the waist to pick up the ball and put more strain on their back.  We learn that we can do it this way and create the bad habit at an early age.

So go back to what was natural and lift like an infant to protect your back!baby-squat

Prevent Back Pain from Golf

John Naumann Back Pain, Uncategorized Comments Off on Prevent Back Pain from Golf

Golf without back pain

How to prevent back pain from golf

The weather is perfect, the golf courses are green and calling many out to hit the links!  Don’t let back pain keep you from enjoying your round.  Follow these simple tips for a pain-free golf:

  1. Check your bag – Make sure your bag is not overloaded with unnecessary equipment.  Sunny days don’t need you to bring the umbrella or rain jacket.  Unload old golf balls that you will not use and carry just enough to cover round of golf.  Remove unnecessary golf clubs that you won’t use on the course.
  2. Warm-up before teeing off – Going directly to the tee from your car, pulling out the driver, and then proceeding to try to hit the cover off the ball is probably the surest way to sprain one’s back muscles and result in low back pain. Instead, go through a warm-up before starting to golf—including stretching and easy swings—is critical for the muscles to get ready for the game.Your stretching should emphasize the shoulder, torso, and hip regions as well as the hamstring muscles.
    • The shoulder and torso may be stretched by holding a golf club behind the neck and shoulders and then rotating the torso.
    • The hips maybe stretched by pulling the knee to the chest.
    • The hamstrings maybe stretched by bending over and trying to touch the toes.
  3. Take some practice swings – Take a few smooth complete swings.  Feel your body as you go through the complete motion and recognize where you are tight.  Continue to take the practice swings until you feel no resistance.  If necessary stop and revisit the stretches to give a little more focus.
  4. Carrying the golf bag – Carrying the traditional golf bag over one shoulder is very bad for the back.  If you must carry the bag, look for bags that specialize in having 2 straps to distribute the weight across the shoulders.  These bags are also much lighter than the standard golf cart bags.
  5. Walk when you can – Walking is a great way to stay loose when playing a long round of golf.  Many golf course off the option to walk and you can rent a push/pull cart.  It is a great way to get exercise too, since many golf courses can be up to a 5 mile walk.  
  6. Get a lesson – Proper mechanics in your golf swing can make the golf round a much more enjoyable experience and also make sure you aren’t putting any unnecessary stresses on you joints and back.  

Now get out there and enjoy that round of golf!

Moving? Follow these tips to protect your back

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Stretching Comments Off on Moving? Follow these tips to protect your back

Are you moving?  Follow these tips to protect your back!


Back injuries are the most common injuries people experience when moving.  Proper preparation can make your moving experience a happy and safe one.

Moving? Follow these tips to protect your back:

  1. Wear proper footwear – Wear shoes that are not open toed and provide good grip on various surfaces
  2. Wear gloves – Proper gloves can improve grip and protect your hands when lifting objects
  3. Proper packing – Do not overload, everyone is different but load to a weight that you can handle for multiple repetitions.
  4. Use assistive devices – Use a dolly or hand truck to move heavier objects.
  5. Recruit help – Enlist friends and family when possible to help reduce the lifting load you are taking on.
  6. Keep it close – Avoid reaching and twisting, this is a sure fire way to hurt your back
  7. Use the legs – Warm the legs up by going into full squats to stretch out your hips and low back. Keep your back flat when you lift.
  8. Go Light-Heavy-Light– Warming your muscles up is one of the most important things you can do to protect your back. Start by lifting and moving a few light items first and then, while you are still fresh, move the heavy items. Finish your move by bringing in the rest of the light items.
  9. Stretch – Taking time to stretch at the end of your move will help loosen the tightening muscles and help reduce discomfort the next day. Check out these stretches.
    1. Hamstring Stretch
    2. Piriformis Stretch
    3. Prayer Stretch
    4. Prone Press-up




Best Way to Treat Back Pain, New Study Review

John Naumann Acute Pain, Back Pain, Chronic Pain, Med-X, Physical Therapy Comments Off on Best Way to Treat Back Pain, New Study Review

Lower Back PainThe Best Way to Treat Back Pain

New study review suggests we may be wasting our money on back belts, shoe inserts, and other back care items.  The findings support the most effective way of treating and preventing back pain is exercise.

About 80 percent of U.S. adults will experience an episode of low back pain at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. [Lower Back Pain: Causes, Relief and Treatment]

To evaluate which preventive methods for low back pain are effective in easing its discomfort, the researchers analyzed data from 23 studies with a total of nearly 31,000 participants. The analysis found that exercise alone could reduce a person’s risk of low- back pain by 35 percent, and it could also cut the use of sick time by 78 percent over the course of a year.

People who participated in an exercise program and also received additional educational instruction were 45 percent less likely to have low back pain over the course of one year, compared with people who were not involved in both programs, according to the research, published online today (Jan. 11) in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. [This is by far the best way to prevent low back pain, Huffington Post]

These findings support The Center for Total Back Care’s approach to treating and helping prevent back pain.  We found the Med-X system in conjunction with traditional rehabilitation, is the most effective way to treat neck and back pain.  To learn more about our approach to spinal care, contact us at (480) 633-8293.

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