Road Trips and Back Pain Infographic

Road Trips and Back Pain Infographic

The Road Trips and Back Pain Infographic from Back Clinics of Canada

If you’re one of the 80 percent of adults taking at least one road trip this year, be aware that car travel is not great for back pain. Minimize your low back pain and neck pain on long drives with these tips:

1. Use a Lumbar Support Pillow: This can help reduce stress on the lower back and help maintain proper alignment.

2. Good Posture: Minimize strain on your neck, shoulders and lower back. Adjust your seat and mirrors and reach the pedals comfortably.

3. Take Driving Breaks & Stretch: If you suffer low back pain or neck pain, stop and stretch every 30-60 minutes.

4. Move Often: Change position as you’re able, cruise control can help you rest your legs.

5. Pack Smart: Lift luggage with your legs, not your back. Hold heavy items close to your body. Ask for help!

6. Share the Load: Take turns relaxing both your muscles and your mind.

7. Stop When You Should: If your pain intensifies, stop. Rest, ice, and lay down with a pillow under your knees. If this doesn’t help, or if you develop persistent numbness, loss of muscle power or bowel/bladder symptoms, call your health professional.

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Summer Road Trips and Back Pain

Prevent back pain and neck pain while drivingMore than 80 percent of adults will probably take at least one summer road trip this year*. On average, they’re willing to drive more than 500 miles. That equates to approximately 8-9 hours on the road.

There are many positive reasons for choosing travel by car: fresh air, low cost, enjoyment of driving, family time. Unfortunately there are some drawbacks as well. Long drives are not good for the back. If you suffer with any kind of back or neck pain, such as bulging or herniated disc, spinal arthritis or sciatica, you may find your pain aggravated by long stretches on the road. If you don’t have a specific low back or neck pain condition, stress and aches on the spine can develop on long car trips, affecting even the healthiest person. Both the lower (lumbar) spine and the neck (cervical) can be negatively affected.

Why Car Travel is Not Great for Back Pain

1. Car seats are not ergonomically ideal. There is some adjusting you can do to the angles and height of a driver or front passenger seat. But overall the seated position of the driver or passenger is likely to bring the center of gravity right over the discs, which can lead to an increase in pain. Poor posture assumed in a car seat worsens things.

2. When sitting in a fixed position for a long time, muscles can stiffen. This can cause spasms and shorten hip flexors. The driver may also experience hyperextension of the neck and cramping of the legs.

3. Packing the car with suitcases, coolers or other heavy/bulky items can also exacerbate an existing back pain condition. Often people lift too-heavy loads and/or lift improperly, and don’t realize that they’re putting incredible strain on their lower backs.

Minimize Low Back Pain and Neck Pain on Long Drives

These simple reminders can help to minimize back and neck pain while enjoying your road trip.

1. Use a Lumbar Support Pillow: this can greatly reduce stress on the lower back. It will support your lower back and help you to maintain proper alignment over your hips. It’s good for just about any seat in the car.

2. Good Posture: Having good driving posture will minimize strain on your neck, shoulders and lower back. Especially if you’re the driver, take time to adjust your seat before beginning your long drive. Make sure you can see in the rear and side mirrors by moving your eyes, not straining your neck. Also that you can see all dashboard dials and information by just moving your eyes. Be able to hold the steering wheel comfortably, without lifting, rounding or straining your shoulders or neck. Your feet should reach the pedals in a relaxed way. Don’t sit too far away that you strain your ankle or toes, or too close that your knee is bent up under the wheel.

3. Take Driving Breaks and Stretch: If you suffer with low back pain or neck pain, stop every 30-60 minutes. Pull the car over to a safe spot, park and get out. Stretch your muscles; loosen your joints, move around get your blood circulating.

Specifically, and this is good for everyone, place your hands on your low back and extend backwards so you feel a good stretch. Also you can rotate your upper torso carefully from side to side. This should take no more than a minute. These stretches will help dissipate pressure on your spine and help you feel more comfortable.

4. Move Often: Change position as you’re able, especially if you are a passenger. (If the car has cruise control, use it while driving to rest your legs.)

5. Pack Smart: Be mindful when loading and unloading the trunk. As always, lift with your legs, not your back. Resist the urge to bend over when maneuvering heavy objects. Pivot to turn. Hold heavy items close to your body. Ask for help before pushing yourself too far!

6. Share the Load: Don’t do it alone, if at all possible. Share the driving with another adult; take turns relaxing both your muscles and your mind.

7. Stop When You Should – Your health is too important. If your low back pain or neck pain becomes intense, stop! Rest, ice and lay down with a pillow under your knees. If this doesn’t help, or if you develop persistent numbness, loss of muscle power or bowel/bladder symptoms, call your health professional.

* Survey fielded by Bridgestone Americas in May 2014.

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How Do I Get Relief From Back and Neck Pain When I Sleep?

Back Pain and Sleep Position

The Back Clinics of Canada infographic with sleep position tips for reducing back and neck pain.

Sleep Position:

On your back OR on your side. If on back, prop up your knees with a pillow, if on side, prop a pillow between your knees.


Relaxing your body will ease muscle tension

Neck Pillow:

Having  a good pillow such as a contoured pillow or a water pillow to support the neck may help to prevent waking up with neck pain.


Choose a tight-top mattress or a very low-profile pillow top. A higher firmness will provide support without sacrificing comfort.

Body Pillow:

A body pillow helps you to comfortably maintain a side-position and reduces stress on the spine.





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Preventing Back Injuries While Playing Golf

Playing golf while avoiding back injuriesWith over 5.7 million golfers in Canada*, golf has become the most popular recreational sport in Canada. This is due to an increase in baby boomers retiring and the increase in golf courses in the country. With summer just beginning, even the most casual golfers are beginning to take advantage of the weather.

Many golfers, both casual and serious, frequently injure their back because they do not take into account the potentially taxing strain on their bodies that comes with golfing. The most common injury occurs in one’s lower back.

There are several ways in which you can take proactive steps to prevent injury in your lower back from holding back your golfing:

Stretching: It is all too often that a golfer will go directly to the tee early in the morning and immediately begin with their driver. This can lead to straining one’s back muscles, which will lead to lower back pain. Make sure to take the time to stretch before taking that first swing. It is important to emphasize stretching the shoulder, torso, hip and hamstring.

Start with your upper body and move your way down. Some simple stretches such as rotating your shoulders and neck are a good way to start. By pulling your k
nees to your chest
you will be able to work on your hips. Don’t forget to work on your hamstrings by bending over and touching your toes.

Practice Swings: There is no reason to jump immediately into using a driver. It is best to work your way up to a big swing gradually. Start with a wedge and slowly begin to use other clubs. This will ensure that the first swing that you take does not come as a shock to your back.

Proper Mechanics: Having proper mechanics cannot only improve your golf game but it will also prevent more injuries. By working with a professional or practicing on your own, you will be able to maximize your swing while minimizing the impact on your body. By spreading out the force throughout your body during your swings, you will not have as much stress on your lower back muscles.

Lift with Your Knees: Your golf bag might not be part of the game but it will be part of the reason your back could be in pain. Make sure that before you lift your bag, you are lifting with your knees and not your back. Lifting with your knees will put less stress on your back . Additionally, using two bag straps instead of one will allow you to distribute the weight evenly on your back and reduce the chance of having lower back pain because of an uneven load.

If you are experiencing pain from a low back injury, please visit a back pain specialist who can find and treat the source of the pain. Back Clinics of Canada provides the necessary treatment and care for all athletes that have endured pain from sports related injuries. Our offices have the most state of the art equipment to ensure that you are back on the greens without the use of any drugs or surgery.

*According to the National Allied Golf Association

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Prevent Low Back Pain: If You’re Sitting All Day, These 3 Tips May Help

iStock_000015889139SmallIt’s easy to understand how back pain can result from a workplace injury or from repetitive stress. But from sitting?

Yes. The problem often lies in the muscle group that connects the lower back to the legs. It’s called the iliopsoas or inner hip muscles. These muscles get tight when you sit all day. This tightening causes the abdomen to be pulled forward and downward, causing pressure on the lower back. Unnatural pressure on the lower back can certainly lead to pain. Prolonged sitting can also compress spinal structures like the discs and lead to their deterioration, and may also aggravate sciatica, which is pain, numbness, burning or tingling down the leg due to irritation of the sciatic nerve.

If you have a job, or lifestyle, that necessitates extended periods of sitting, take note of these 3 simple tips for keeping your low back pain-free.

  1. Stand up, stretch backwards for a moment and walk a bit every 20 minutes.
  2. While seated, keep one knee lower than the other (which requires you to sit near the front edge of your seat). Alternate knees frequently.
  3. Regularly perform hip flexor stretches, to keep the muscles from tightening up.

If you are suffering with low back pain, schedule an appointment at Back Clinics of Canada. Only Back Clinics of Canada offers the High Performance Healing SystemTM — an integrated approach to healing damaged/injured spinal discs. Our care is non-invasive, non-surgical and drug-free.

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Bulging Disc at a Young Age

iStock_000015961542SmallBack Clinics of Canada Patient Question of the Week

I’m 35. My doctor has diagnosed me with an L4-L5 bulging disc. It’s so painful. I feel I’m too young for this. Do I have to look forward to back pain for the rest of my life?

I’m sorry to hear about your pain. Low back pain does not discriminate. Eighty percent of Canadians will experience it at some time in their adult lives.

Bulging discs do not always cause pain. In fact, many people have one and don’t even know it. But sometimes the bulge extends so far that it presses on an adjacent nerve. When this happens, pain and other symptoms may result.

Fortunately, bulging discs are treatable.


A bulging disc is usually caused by trauma, but not exclusively by a sudden trauma like a sports injury or a fall. A bulge typically develops over time.

Here’s how: Generally, a bulge begins when there is a weakness in the disc wall. Movements like rotation and bending while lifting can put pressure on the disc. This pressure can result in inflammation. Inflammation can impair the nutrition of the spine and compromise the integrity of the disc, allowing the gel centre of the disc, called the nucleus, to bulge outwards.

A bulge can also develop simply as a factor of age or genetics.

A disc bulge can be exacerbated by repetitive stress that comes from daily activities such as heavy lifting, sports and other activities.

Many people have disc bulges that cause no pain or symptoms. These people don’t even know they have a bulge.

When the bulge becomes so large that symptoms develop, it’s time to be examined by a back pain expert, and explore treatment options.


Because you are experiencing pain, you should definitely be assessed to determine the diagnosis and appropriate treatment. There are many options available to patients today depending on the nature and severity of the problem: chiropractic, registered massage therapy, physiotherapy, yoga, and rest to name a few.

At Back Clinics of Canada, bulging disc is one of the more common back pain conditions we treat. We offer a treatment protocol that is non-invasive, non-surgical and drug-free. The care we provide directs healing forces at the specific spinal disc requiring care. This multi-pronged approach – The High Performance Healing SystemTM – combines non-surgical spinal decompression, Class IV K-laser therapy and nutritional supplementation to encourage healing at the source of the pain—in your case, a bulging disc.

As you explore your treatment options, consider the High Performance Healing SystemTM for safe and effective care.

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Back Clinics of Canada Question of the Week: How Do I Know If My Low Back Pain Is Serious?

When to seek treatment for Low Back Pain
This week we received a question about intermittent low back pain.

I have low back pain, but not all the time. It comes and goes. I’m not sure what triggers it and I wouldn’t say it’s debilitating. It’ll come out of nowhere, and I just have to slow down for a while, it’ll then go away.

How do I know how serious it is? When do I know I have to get it checked out?

The majority of adults who experience serious low back pain or neck pain cannot recall a specific accident, injury or event that brought it on. They often say that their pain developed over time, increasing slowly. They didn’t pay much attention to it until, in one moment, it overwhelmed them.

Learn What’s Causing Your Serious Low Back Pain, Sciatica or Neck Pain

When diagnostic tests and examinations are performed, these tests can often reveal the source of the low back pain, sciatica or neck pain. Often doctors see a degenerated, bulging or herniated disc. (Of course, there are other causes for low back pain and neck pain, including spinal stenosis, facet syndrome, and spinal arthritis.) The compromised disc affects the adjacent nerves that branch out from the spine. This can bring on a whole host of symptoms that include pain, numbness, burning, tingling and even loss of strength. Some people with degenerative disc disease, or a bulging or herniated disc, do not feel any symptoms for a long while. It’s not unusual for your low back pain to come and go.

See a Low Back Pain Expert

It’s always best to see a doctor for low back pain at the first onset of symptoms, even if you think it’s minor. If you wait, then the thing that is causing your pain could worsen over time without presenting alarming symptoms. When you do get hit with that debilitating pain “out of nowhere” it may be too late to treat it with anything other than serious intervention. Waiting too long can also mean that care could take longer, cost more, and have a lower success rate.

Don’t wait until your low back pain increases to the point of real suffering. Get it checked out today.

At our Toronto back pain clinic, we see patients who have been suffering with low back pain for years. After care with us, many of them experience unprecedented healing success. They wish they had come to us sooner.


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Back Clinics of Canada Question of the Week: Bulging Lumbar Disc

Bulging Lumbar Disc in Lower BackThis week we received a question about a bulging lumbar disc.

I hurt my back a few months ago. I was diagnosed with a bulging lumbar disc. I’ve always been a very active – running, rollerblading, swimming. It’s getting me down, not being able to move like I used to. What can you recommend?

Having a painful back condition is discouraging when it prevents you from engaging in the activities that make you feel energized and alive.  The good news is a bulging disc can be treated successfully with the High Performance Healing SystemTM offered at our Toronto back pain clinic.

The High Performance Healing SystemTM is an integrated, safe approach that has at its core non-surgical spinal decompression, Class IV K-laser and nutritional supplementation. Bulging disc is one of the more common painful low back and neck conditions that we treat.

Until you successfully heal and get rid of your pain, you definitely don’t want to push your body to the point of further injuring or stressing your spine. It’s always best to discuss any activity with your doctor, and to trust your own body to know what activity you could engage in. (Only you know how you feel!) One point to note is that the vast majority of patients who undergo care at our Toronto back pain clinic are able to continue working, while receiving treatment.

In some cases if your doctor permits it, low back core strengthening exercises may be an option for maintaining muscle tone. Also core strengthening exercises have the capability of improving spinal and even disc integrity.

Your goal should be to build strength in your back and abdomen, the main muscle groups that support the spine.

You did not indicate which mode of care you are currently receiving for your bulging lumbar disc. There is a successful and credible non-surgical, non-invasive, drug-free option for successful true healing at Back Clinics of Canada.

Contact Back Clinics of Canada to learn more about our care and to see if it’s right for you.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Ron Nusbaum

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Back Clinics of Canada Question of the Week: Chronic Low Back Pain and Degenerative Disc Disease

This week we received a question about disc degeneration and how to avoid it.

iStock_000020263778XSmallMy father’s chronic debilitating low back pain began in his mid-sixties. He was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. He’s had physical therapy and pain relievers which provided only partial and temporary pain relief. He periodically receives cortisone injections. He has other health problems (diabetes, overweight). He insists his bad discs are a result of genetics. I’m confused, and I’m terrified of having the same problems when I get older, despite my efforts to stay healthy. Is there anything I can do to avoid having the same pain-filled future?

I have not treated your father and do not know the true cause of your father’s back pain. But I can answer your question in two parts.

First, disc degeneration is often a natural part of aging. Yes, genetics do play a role, but do not guarantee that disc degeneration will happen.

The spinal discs act as shock absorbers and allow for movement and flexibility of the spine. With age, discs may begin to thin, dehydrate and deteriorate. The extent of natural disc degeneration differs for every person. If the condition becomes extreme to the point where the nerves adjacent to the discs become compromised, then serious pain, difficult mobility, and other symptoms may arise.

That being said, it is difficult to say what role genetics will play in your future.

Second, lifestyle definitely affects spinal health.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to mitigate natural disc degeneration.

How can you keep your spine strong and healthy?

- Watch your weight! I can’t stress this enough. It’s important to maintain a healthy weight for your body. Carrying excess pounds puts great strain on the back.

- Eat spine-healthy foods. Certain nutrients and minerals contribute to the building and maintenance of soft-tissue in the body (the main building material of spinal discs and joints). Click here to learn more about eating right for your spine.

- Keep your calcium and vitamin D intake in check; bones become brittle with age too.

Stay active. As we age, it is natural that the body’s metabolism slows down, fat accumulates (particularly around our mid-section) and bones become more brittle. It’s increasingly important to maintain strength and flexibility through the years.

- Focus on maintaining core strength – the muscle groups that support your lower back and spine

- Keep to a proper routine/use of weights and resistance bands to build strength (which contributes to bone strength as well)

- Find an activity or class that is appropriate for you, both in preventing injury and in helping you to reach your goal of a healthy spine. At a certain point in our lives, beach volleyball, downhill skiing and heart-thumping aerobics classes may be too stressful and lead to injury. Your goal is to find exercise that is natural, gentle and focuses on proper alignment and building muscle.

Remember that bending at the waist can actually irritate an otherwise healthy disc and over time create real preventable problems. Many people find that chiropractic check ups are helpful to keep your spine in check!

If at any time you begin to feel stress or pain in your low back or neck, contact our Toronto back pain clinic to make an appointment for an assessment.

Yours in health,
Dr. Ron Nusbaum

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Back Clinics of Canada Question of the Week: Neck and Shoulder Pain and Your Mobile Device

This week we received a question about a spouse who is experiencing a sore neck and sore shoulder.

My husband has been complaining of terrible neck and shoulder pain. I think it might be because he’s always looking down at his smartphone and iPad. But he’s not convinced and says I’m just nagging. Should he see a doctor?

Portrait of senior man using smartphoneIt is true that overuse of a mobile device can lead to neck pain. There’s a good article here that explains why this is so.

Neck and shoulder pain is increasing among the adult population, partly due to extended use of mobile and handheld electronic devices.

In ideal head posture, the head is held upright with the ears vertically in line with the shoulders. Yet mobile device users tend to hang their heads down and hunch their shoulders as they talk or text. Since the head is so heavy, this puts extra strain on the neck muscles and shoulder muscles. In the short term, this can lead to neck ache, stiff neck, and sore shoulders. In the long term, this can compress the discs of the neck and develop into a chronic pain condition.

These days, it’s hard to convince anyone to get through a day without their mobile device in hand; hence, convincing your husband to put his smartphone and tablet away (for even a few hours) might be unrealistic. That being said, here are some things one can do to alleviate neck pain and prevent stiff neck and sore shoulder.

  • Take regular breaks from using handheld devices
  • Do specific neck exercises and shoulder exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles. Click here to see Dr. Ron Nusbaum’s neck stretching and strengthening videos
  • Use an easel for the tablet, or at least prop it at eye level for easy and conducive use
  • Hold the smartphone to your ear, keeping your head in proper alignment; a good set of ear buds with a built-in microphone is also recommended

If your husband’s neck pain and shoulder pain persist, take him to see a neck and back pain specialist. Dr. Ron Nusbaum, Director of Back Clinics of Canada, treats patients with serious, debilitating low back pain and neck pain. His High Performance Healing SystemTM – an advanced system that is non-invasive, non-surgical and drug-free — has great success with patients suffering from painful back and neck conditions.

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