Physical therapists say these common problems you have can be cheap & easy to fix — here's how

They’re more common than you think.

Physical therapists say these common problems you have can be cheap & easy to fix -- here's how
ByChristina Wood
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

When your neck hurts, your back is stiff, and you get to the end of every workday too exhausted to do anything but collapse on the couch, it feels like life is nothing but toil and oppression. But you can make some simple tweaks and adjustments to prevent that pain and end each day with energy to spare. If you want a better solution than applying more caffeine and powering through, physical therapists say these common problems you have can be cheap and easy to fix — here’s how.

Note: If you experience persistent pain, always consult your trusted health professional for specific medical advice.


You're feeling lower back pain

"The most common issue patients come to PT with are low back pain, neck pain, and foot pain," according to Dr. Kelly Baez, PT, DPT, and owner of Tampa Bay Physical Therapy. And far and away the most common advice from the physical therapists consulted, was stretching and movement. Yoga is a great place to start. This yoga mat is a great way to get started with yoga. There are 70 poses printed on the mat so you can work through a flow with nothing more than this mat and some comfy clothing. It comes in six colors.


You're feeling neck pain

"People are forgetting the significance of stretching, eating a balanced diet, hydrating, and sleeping seven to eight hours per night,” says Baez. Try sleeping on this neck roll pillow. It is designed to encourage a therapeutic posture that heals and prevents neck back, and shoulder pain. You can tuck it between your knees or use it as a lumbar support pillow in a chair, too. It comes in four colors.


You're feeling foot pain

While Baez recommends you consult your doctor first, as your specific issues could dictate your treatment plan, there are a few at-home remedies she recommends. Baez says, "After being diagnosed by a professional and having your medical history reviewed, the modalities that typically assist with pain are [...] tennis/massage balls, foam roller, stretching straps, insoles, and proper supportive structures like a good mattress, pillow, or cushion." This peanut massager, for example, can make it easier to massage hard-to-reach areas and allow you to work out muscle pain on your own, at home.


You're dehydrated

If exhaustion, headaches, and hunger are you main complaints, you might find that your ailments are caused by dehydration. Not getting enough fluids is hard on your body but it is also easy to address. Carry this half-gallon water bottle with time markers printed on it to help you build better hydration habits. It will show you how much water your body needs to consume throughout the day. It comes in 21 colors.


You're not taking breaks from your desk

"Develop a stretch routine where you set an alarm on your computer, phone, or watch to stretch for one to two minutes every two hours at a minimum and attempt walking for five to 10 minutes during break times,” suggests Baez. This cute cube timer is a helpful tool for this. Just flip it to the duration you want and it will mark the time and beep when it’s time to get up and move. Flip it to mark your breaks, too. Each one has four time durations.


You're not getting enough protein or plants

"Depending on your diet and nutritional needs, you can also pack a shake with various protein and plant-based sources,” says Baez. “This will allow you time to walk and still get the proper meal you require to be productive." This portable blender will let you whip up a smoothie wherever you are. Just hit the button and it turns whatever you put into it into a sippable meal. It’s rechargeable and has a handle so you can grab and go. It comes in four colors.


Your laptop isn't eye level

"Ensure your workstation is set up with your monitor, chair, and desk at proper heights that allow for good posture,” says Baex. Hunching over to look at a laptop screen will cause neck pain. Lift that screen up so you sit up straight when looking at it and you can prevent that. This laptop stand is an easy, affordable solution. It comes in nine colors and snaps apart so you can drop it in a travel bag.


Your monitor isn't eye level

If you work at a desk and work on a computer with an external monitor, you need to set that at eye level, too, or you will develop neck pain from looking down or up at it. Set a monitor that is too low on this monitor riser with a glass surface. Because you can look through the surface and see what’s below, it won’t create a dead spot on your desk. You can even turn that underneath space into useful storage.


You work on your feet all day

"Monitor the footwear you are using to ensure you have good arch and medial/lateral support,” says Baez. “Ensure the toe box height and width are giving you enough space for your feet." While some of this will dictate a designated shoe shopping trip, if your favorite shoes aren’t offering enough support, add these comfort insoles to boost it. They distribute your weight evenly while the gel wave technology massages your feet as you walk or stand. They will help you end the day with energy.


You work with your hands all day

"Massaging the palm of your hands for five to 10 minutes also stimulates the ‘rest and digest’ system and releases a natural hormone called oxytocin that combats pain,” says Baez. This hand and finger massager lets you do this yourself whenever you like. A roller on one end massages the palm while the dial roller pincer side gives you an effective finger massage.


You're not moving different parts of your body

"One widespread mistake is the lack of movement diversity throughout the day,” says Dody Deavours, PT, a physical therapist at AICA Orthopedics. “Many people stick to a single, often detrimental posture for hours, which can lead to significant strain and discomfort. It's crucial to mix up your physical routines and postures to distribute the load more evenly across different body parts."

Set a timer to get up every hour, and grab a card from this deck of stretching workout cards and do one of them during every break. By the end of the week, you will have worked your whole body without ever going to the gym.


Your desk setup isn't ergonomic

"An ergonomic chair and properly positioned monitor can also significantly reduce back strain," according to Deavours. But if that’s not in the budget, this desk chair cushion will fix many ills of a not-perfect desk chair. It’s breathable, softens the seat, keeps your coccyx bone from hitting a hard chair surface, and corrects your posture. It has a handle and a washable, removable cover.


You're not activating your core

"Additionally, incorporating core strengthening exercises into your routine can enhance back support and alleviate pain," says Deavours. You can turn your inactive sitting time into core activation time by sitting on this wobble cushion. Or toss it on the floor do some quick core-challenging exercises or stand on it to improve balance. It comes in three colors.


Your footwear isn't supportive

"For individuals who spend a lot of time standing, supportive footwear is vital,” says Deavours. “I often suggest using high-quality insoles to provide extra cushioning and support." These orthotic insoles will correct pronation, support arches, and may give relief to plantar fasciitis and other foot ailments.


Your calves & feet feel tight

If your legs and calves feel tight, walking can be painful. "Regular calf and foot stretches can help,” says Deavours. “As well as ensuring that any standing mats or areas are ergonomically supportive." Set your foot on this calf stretcher and rock back and forth to stretch that muscle gently. It positions your foot at precisely the right angle for optimal stretching and alleviates pain from tight muscles and ligaments, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon, and more.


Your muscles are sore

"I frequently recommend using foam rollers and massage balls to help with muscle tightness and soreness,” says Deavours. Lie on this foam roller and roll it along your back, side, or thigh muscles to work out tension and promote circulation. The textured surface feels terrific. It comes in two sizes and six colors.


Your chair doesn't have the back support you need

"For those who struggle with back pain, ergonomic supports like lumbar cushions for chairs or supportive pillows for sleep can make a significant difference,” says Deavours. Strap this lumbar support pillow into your desk chair to correct your posture and support your lower back. It works well in a desk chair or in your car to improve the comfort and support of the seat.


You need a more supportive sleep set up

In bed, this wedge pillow can help you sleep by elevating your head to relieve back pain and reduce pressure on your upper back. This position may also reduce snoring and help you breathe more easily while you sleep. The high-density memory foam is firm but has just enough give to make it supremely comfortable. You can flip it around to elevate your legs while reading, too. It comes in two sizes.


You're standing on hard surfaces

"For those on their feet all day, the key issue often relates to improper footwear and inadequate floor support,” says Bryan Wright, PT, DPT, and founder of Wright Physical Therapy. “Investing in high-quality supportive footwear and utilizing anti-fatigue mats can dramatically reduce discomfort and the potential for injury." This anti-fatigue mat softens a hard kitchen, office, or workshop work area so you can stand without developing back pain or sore legs and feet. It comes in 15 colors and five sizes.


Youre not stretching

"Lifestyle adaptations are also crucial,” says Wright. “Integrating activities that enhance flexibility, such as yoga or Pilates, and strengthening exercises focusing on the core and back muscles can help manage and prevent pain.” If you are too stiff to get into the stretches you are trying to achieve, add this stretch out strap to your tool kit. The non-stretchy strap with loops for your feet will help you gently ease into those stretches.


You don't feel flexible

Keep these yoga exercise cards on your desk, too. When your movement alarm goes off, grab one and execute a pose, turning that two- to five-minute movement break into a therapeutic mini-workout. There are 50 cards in a large format that’s easy to toss onto your yoga mat as a guide. Assemble several cards into a longer workout to create a varied yoga practice. There are decks for other workouts — strength, pilates, kettlebell, etc — too.


Your back feels tight

If your back is tight, Wright has some more advice. “Tools like foam rollers or massage balls are excellent for self-managed back relief, helping to alleviate muscle tightness and improve mobility,” he says. Grab this massage ball set and lean into them or roll them under that tight shoulder muscle. The firm, rubber will get in there and help release knots and tension.


You're slouching at your desk

"Slouching at a desk isn’t going to break your back, but if you do it day in and out over long swaths of time, your body will adapt to those stressors,” says Dr. Mike Masi, DPT, a physical therapist and contributor to Garage Gym Reviews. It’s a hard habit to break without help, though. This posture tracker gently vibrates when you slouch, reminding you to sit up. As you retrain your habit, you can track your progress in the app.


Your car seat needs more support

If you spend a lot of time in the car, that could be where you are slouching. "For those with long commutes, I recommend using lumbar support in their car,” says Masi. Tuck this lumbar roll into the curve of your lower back. It will correct your posture so that you sit up and take the pressure off your lower back. It comes in two densities and you can move it from the car to a desk chair easily.


Your workstation is on a hard floor

"Lastly, for people standing at a workstation for long periods, I suggest using a padded mat to stand on,” says Masi. This high-grade anti-fatigue mat will give your legs, back, and feet a soft and comfy place to spend the day. It will reduce discomfort and make it easier to stand for long stretches.


You're static throughout your day

"Movement is the best medicine for general orthopedic aches and pains,” says Masi. “My recommendation is to find a way to get regular movement and physical activity in." If you are stuck in your office, add this stair stepper to your workspace so you can stand up and move your entire body without leaving. It gives you a serious cardio workout and is quiet and easy to move around.


You're intimidated by exercise

"Try not to get caught up in what is the most optimal thing to do, and instead find something that is enjoyable and practical," recommends Masi. Whatever that is — walking, yoga, or a stair climber — dress so it’s easy to just do it. These high-waisted leggings are comfortable for any kind of movement and come in so many colors and patterns you can make them part of your daily wardrobe. They come in capri, full length, and full length with pockets.


You're not standing every hour

"For those with desk jobs, I recommend setting a timer every hour to remind yourself to stand up, stretch, and walk for a few minutes,” says Masi. This simple kitchen timer is all you need for this. Set the timer for an hour so you can focus on work until it goes off. It sticks magnetically to a metal surface and the big, bold numbers are easy to read.


You're not moving in a way that’s comfortable to you

"Pain and low activity are a vicious cycle,” warns Palak Shah, PT, physical therapist and co-founder of Luna Physical Therapy. “Pain leads to lower activity and lower activity leads to increased pain. Get over the inertia of inactivity. Do what you can tolerate, but keep moving!" It helps to have goals and to track how your effort is leading to improvement. So wear this simple pedometer so you can see how far you walked and know when you are meeting your goals and when you are falling behind. It comes in seven colors.


You're not taking time to breathe

"Honestly, it's the most fundamental movement of life,” says Shah. “Breathing. The most common mistake that leads to causing body imbalance and pain is incorrect breathing." This Breathing Buddha will help you get it right. Follow the fade-in and fade-out color prompts to follow two popular calming breath practices. It will help you find calm and focus. There is also a stacked pebble shape if the Buddha doesn’t fit your decor.


You're not breathing deeply

This deep breathing exerciser is another way to practice breathing. It offers visual feedback on your inhales and exhales so you can work toward optimum lung capacity and restore your breathing to a calm, rhythmic pattern to help you manage your mood.


Your sitting posture is poor

"Sitting posture, it's hard to do it right,” says Shah. “An analogy I’ve learned in physical therapy training is to think of your pelvis as a bowl and the abdominal organs are fruits. Keep your fruits in the bowl.” Focus on your sitting posture and make sure you have the right chair setup. A good chair can help you achieve this without thinking about it all day. This gaming chair has a built-in lumbar support and can be adjusted to fit you.


You feel lower back pain when you stand

"People who sit for long periods often have low back pain and research suggests that this pain has to do with trouble in the lumbar discs,” says JR Justesen, PT, FCAMPT, CSCS, CGIMS, physical therapist at Parkway Physiotherapy. “One of the clues that we hear our patients say about it is that sitting is not bad but when they go to stand up that is when the low back pain really bites them!" Add this lumbar support pillow to your chair to correct your back position and support those lumbar discs. It comes in four colors.


You feel lower back pain when you sit

"Roll up a towel and place it in the small of your lower back while sitting,” says Justesen. It is easy to keep a towel nearby if you stock up on these inexpensive microfiber towels. They come in seven colors so you can coordinate them to your decor. “This will improve your low back posture by improving what we call a lumbar lordosis,” he says.


Your body aches from standing all day

"People who stand and walk for long periods during their day often experience back pain as well as other body aches,” says Justesen. “Reduce stress on the low back joints — the facet joints of the low back can be a common source of pain and these pains can radiate and cause aching in multiple areas of the body. In order to reduce strain on these regions, try spending some time with one foot up on a small box or stool. Elevating one foot reduces the curve in your low back and this reduces compression." This footrest is perfect for this and the textured surface feels great on your feet.


You're on your feet all day

"If you are on your feet all day in a small space then a shock-absorbing mat can provide wonderful benefits,” says Justesen. This comfort mat offers both shock absorption so your legs and feet don’t have to absorb all that weight and impact as well as a variety of surfaces so you can move around while you stand.


You're sitting at your desk for too long

"If you experience back pain when sitting at your desk for long hours, taking movement breaks and changing positions may help,” says Kailtin Vance, a physical therapist with Clover Physiotherapy. “Stand up and walk around, do some stretches at your desk, or simply change [your sitting] position, and your back pain should start to calm down." Put this footrest under your desk so you can adjust your body position by raising up your feet. You can also flip it over and use it as a rocker to add a bit of movement into your seated positions.


You're not changing your position often enough

You could also switch your chair out for this kneeling chair to keep working while changing position completely. Instead of sitting, and putting all that pressure on your lower back, lean forward and rest on your knees. This kneeling chair also rocks so you can move while you work.


You haven't tried resistance training

“Resistance training, aerobics, or even just walking or stretching will improve blood flow and synovial (joint) fluid flow, making you feel less painful and stiff," says Vance. To get started, add this resistance bands set to your home gym and pull it out for quick strength training whenever you get up to move. It comes with a door anchor, wrist and ankle straps, and five bands with different resistance levels.


Your desk height is off

"A very common issue I see is neck and upper back pain in people who have desk jobs,” says Vance. “You can set your neck and back up for success by ensuring the top of your computer screen sits at eye level and your elbows can comfortably rest on your desk to prevent excess stress and tension on your neck." This standing desk converter will help you achieve this. It has a keyboard tray and monitor riser. It also adjusts to any height so you can go from standing to sitting without readjusting your equipment.