Anyone who's suffered back pain knows how important it is to protect your spine. Here are six easy ways to watch out for yourself, and avoid spine trouble that could save you a lot of pain.
Tip 1: Maintain Good Posture
Posture is one of the most important components of spine health. Because we spend nearly all of our waking hours standing and sitting, it is important to keep the spine erect, upright, and properly positioned.
- Sitting. Keep your knees and hips at the same level. Look straight when possible. Adjust televisions, computers, and mobile phones so they are at eye level.
- Standing. Stand up tall with your chest held high and your shoulders pulled slightly back. Try not to spend too much time bending your neck while looking at a mobile phone.
- Lifting. Lift with the legs and knees rather than your back and upper body. If an object is too heavy for you to lift on your own, find someone to help you.
No one can maintain perfect posture at all times; however, patients who take the time to pay attention to their posture see noticeable benefits in spine health quickly. Pain decreases and everyday activities become easier.
Tip 2: Exercise
Research shows that stretching and strengthening the spine's muscles, ligaments, and tendons improves spine health tremendously. Low impact exercises like walking, light jogging, swimming, or biking work great. Weight lifting with proper form is good as well. Training the core abdominal and oblique muscles helps keep the body’s foundation strong and is recommended.
Tip 3: Maintain Your Weight
Gaining weight puts extra stress and strain on the spine. In order to maintain your weight, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and weigh yourself consistently. Also, monitor your waist size to make you don’t gain belly fat that could potentially cause lower back pain.
Tip 4: Sleep on Your Side
Sleeping on your stomach puts pressure on the spine. Sleeping on your side or back is better.
Tip 5: Modify Movements and Activities
If a movement or activity hurts your spine, do it less or don’t do it at all. Excess twisting, turning, and pivoting should be avoided when possible.
Tip 6: Take Breaks
Being in a position too long can cause a posture breakdown that leads to pain. To avoid this, take frequent breaks during work and day-to-day activities.
When to see a Physician
The six tips outlined above can help you maintain or improve your spine health. However, if you have neck and/or back pain that will not go away despite conservative treatment, we encourage you to make an appointment with an orthopedic spine specialist.