I was speaking with a new client today. She, like other clients we work with had suffered whiplash from a car accident. She was struggling to perform yard work such as mowing the lawn and gardening owing to her neck pain. In the conversation, she revealed how she thought she was strengthening her neck when she was continuously looking down to power wash her driveway. She mentioned the power washing caused her neck pain to worsen but she continued to do it because she believed it was aiding her recovery. I explained that she was irritating her neck by looking down for long periods of time and that it was making her condition worse. Unfortunately, this was not the first time I have had clients make this mistake. Below is a list of activities that have the potential to aggravate an existing neck or back injury. It is vitally important to be aware of body positions or activities that worsen your symptoms. If possible, avoid activities that increase your pain.
Common activities with the potential to aggravate your symptoms:
- washing the floor or a bathtub
- mowing the lawn
- prolonged texting
- washing windows
- lifting or carrying heavy groceries
- using a laptop computer or tablet
It may be impossible to avoid some of the tasks listed above. For example, if you do need to vacuum, try and break the task up. Take a rest break after every five minutes of vacuuming. During this rest break, perform stretches to ease your neck pain or low back pain. For a task such as window washing, you could pace yourself by washing a single window per day over several days.
Forget no pain, no gain
The take home message is that the “no pain, no gain” aphorism is counter productive. The bottom line is when an activity exacerbates your pain symptoms, you should stop the activity.