Lesser-known reasons for neck and back pain, and tips to deal with them

Check your posture during the day. If you’re sitting in a slouched position for hours at a time, your chest and abdominal muscles and your hip flexors will get tight, while your back and shoulder muscles will get stretched out, all of which can trigger back pain and stiffness. “Some people don’t have the muscle memory for good posture—but they can develop that,” says Carol Frey, an orthopedic surgeon and codirector of the West Coast Sports Medicine Foundation-UCLA. Here’s how: Wherever you are sitting, pause periodically and adjust your posture so that your neck is in line with your shoulders, your shoulders are in line with your hips, and your knees are a little lower than your hips. It’s best if you place your feet flat on the floor, adds Naresh C. Rao, an osteopathic primary-care sports medicine physician in New York City. Crossing your legs, he says, throws your pelvis out of its natural alignment, which can lead to low back pain. When loading the dishwasher or taking out the trash, avoid twisting motions for your back’s sake, Cinkay advises: Step toward what you’re picking up or putting down and bend from the knees (not the waist).