Reducing Lower Back Pain For Serious Poker Players

Lower Back Pain

Chronic sharp or dull pain in the lower back is a plight many poker players will face over time. That’s because the most common cause of lower back pain is sitting for long periods of time, especially with bad posture such as being hunched over a table or slouching in your chair. It’s common in the high-stress game of poker to find yourself hunched over the card table and online poker players can easily spend hours at a time sitting. You don’t have to be stuck with an aching back though, as there are ways to help prevent or treat the condition.

Factors that could play a role in developing lower back pain for poker players include:

  • Not being in good physical shape (not enough core strength to support the back)
  • Advancing age
  • Medical conditions like kidney stones or gallbladder problems
  • Sciatica (nerve pain along the spine)
  • Herniated or degenerative disc 
  • Poor posture
  • Excess time sitting in a chair

According to Mike Tan at Online Casino Gems, serious poker players can easily spend six to eight hours a day sitting in a chair. “It’s not uncommon for professional players to participate in poker series rounds that last all day. You’ll see players carry in all kind of comfort items from back support straps to their own personal chairs. Online poker players face a similar problem because they lean forward over a computer keyboard while playing.” 

Here are a few ways you can eliminate lower back pain and stay healthy while strengthening your poker skills at the table. Just a few simple lifestyle changes and teaks to your behavior while playing can go a long way towards making you more comfortable. 

#1. Improve Your Physical Shape & Core Strength

You might not think an exercise routine would be required training for poker players but it can certainly help keep you from developing chronic back and knee problems from too much time spent sitting. Core strengthening can help develop muscles that support the back. Try adding partial crunches to your workout. Wall sits are another great core exercise that doesn’t strain the back. Partial crunches help strengthen the back and stomach muscles. You can also do a lot of stretching or yoga for strength, posture, and flexibility. Eating a balanced diet and getting 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day can help make you into a lean, mean, poker-playing machine. 

#2. Eliminate Bad Posture While Sitting

Your posture describes the way in which you hold your body while standing, sitting, or even laying down. According to the Cleveland Clinic, having good posture means positioning yourself so that the least amount of strain is put on your supporting muscles and ligaments. Your chair should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor. Sit with your back and shoulders straight as much as possible. Keep your body weight evenly distributed on the chair. It’s common for poker players to hunch forward over their cards while playing if this is your gameplay style keep cognizant of the amount of time you spend hunched or slumped rather than sitting up straight and try to strike more of a balance. 

#3. Stretch Or Take Walks Between Hands

Take advantage of breaks in between hands to get up from your seat, stretch, and take short walks. Back pain comes from spending long periods of time at a stretch sitting. Breaking up the time you spend sitting can help prevent sore or tired muscles. If you spend several hours a day, more than once a week, playing poker at a table or at your computer then you are at risk for lower back pain. Short walks not only help stretch your back but can also get your blood flowing which is good to prevent blood clots. 

#4. Use Heat To Sooth A Sore Back

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If you have an event coming up and are already experiencing lower back pain, you can find relief with ThermaCare heat wraps. These adhesive pads provide up to 8 hours of therapeutic heat to soothe tight or tired back muscles. The pads come in multiple sizes and are recommended by the American College of Physicians. Applying heat to painful areas helps to loosen muscles and ease the tension of a stressed back. 

#5. Add Lumbar Support To Your Seat

If sitting for long periods of time is unavoidable, don’t worry, you can add additional lumbar support to any chair. A lumbar support pillow or back cushion can make your chair a lot more comfortable. The lumbar support cushion from Feagar is made of memory foam and provides a breathable, ergonomic design for back pain relief. The breathable mesh will help keep you cool as well, even if you’re sweating a bad hand with high stakes. The cushions are adjustable and held on with straps that you can set to the correct height to provide the best support. 

#6. See A Doctor Or Chiropractor For Chronic Lower Back Pain

Back pain sends 85% of Americans to the doctor at some point in their lives. It is an extraordinarily common condition that often has multiple causes and treatments. Most people will start off by seeing their primary care physician, who may then refer them to a physical therapist as well. Some patients will choose to see a chiropractor instead. A recent study showed that working with a chiropractor did reduce pain quickly without the use of any medications. Often this type of treatment will involve spinal manipulation and finding ergonomic solutions to the way you work and live. There is some controversy over the use of chiropractic care, but it’s an attractive option for people who don’t want to rely on pain relievers or more expensive physical therapy visits that might not be covered with insurance. No matter which route you take, make sure to seek medical care if you experience lower back pain that is severe in nature, prevents good sleep, or keeps you from your normal daily activities. 

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