Spine and Back Advice: Movement, Posture, Sleep, and Exercises
Spine and back advice #1: Get moving
The more you move, the healthier you will be. To prevent injuries to your back and the pain that accompanies them, great spine and back advice is to maintain a healthy weight and try to get regular exercise. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
There are a lot of exercises out there which can help strengthen our backs as well as the muscles and tissues surrounding it.
Spine and back advice #2: Stop smoking
The nicotine in cigarettes changes the chemical make-up of your spinal cushions, the intervertebral discs. This makes them dry out or dehydrate faster and become brittle and more likely to be injured or tear. Ask your doctor for advice on quitting smoking.
There are 4 ways smoking can be damaging to your spine:
- Smoking can decrease bone density. Having low bone density can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis weakens the bones, making them prone to fractures.
- Blood flow reduces when smoking. Impaired blood flow robs your tissues of their much-needed nutrients and oxygen. Smoking causes damage to the lungs. We already know that keeping an active lifestyle is important. Physical activity decreases because of deoxygenated blood which reduces mobility and has a negative impact on the spine.
- Smoking causes damage to the lungs. Smoking causes damage to the lungs. We already know that keeping an active lifestyle is important. Physical activity decreases because of deoxygenated blood which reduces mobility and has a negative impact on the spine.
- Smoking slows down healing and recovery. Smokers are at greater risk of getting infections during recovery. It's been observed that smokers take a longer time to heal and recover than those who don't smoke.
Spine and back advice #3: Practice your posture
If you work at a computer for long periods, make sure your monitor is at eye level. Try to keep your legs at a 90-degree level and your feet slightly tilted upward. Make sure your chair supports your lower back.
Spine and back advice #4: Take regular breaks
Frequent breaks are important if you're required to sit for long periods. Get up and move away from your desk at least every hour; even if it's only for a minute or two. This sounds like such simple spine and back advice, but you'll be surprised at how much it can help relieve the pain and pressure in your spinal column.
Spine and back advice #5: Hold the phone
Be aware of your neck position when you're talking on the phone. Don't cradle the phone with your neck, as this puts stress and strain on your spine. If you need to talk and type, excellent spine and back advice is to invest in a headset.
Spine and back advice #6: Work your core
Your abdominal as well as your lower back muscles support your spine and ensure your total "core" health. Practice extension and flexion to build core strength.
Spine and back advice #7: Sleep well
Avoid sleeping on your belly as this position exaggerates the curve in your lumbar back (lordosis). Instead, try sleeping on your side with a small pillow between your knees. This takes pressure off your spinal column. If you sleep on your back, tuck a small pillow under your knees to help support your spine. Don't stay in one position too long.
Spine and back advice #8: Don't ignore the pain
If back pain starts, stop. Stop what you're doing and rest your back. Don't try to exercise through pain. If you have pain or weakness in your legs, notify your physician. If you lose control of your bladder or bowels, seek medical attention immediately.
Spine and back advice #9: Helpful healing
When your back is painful, you don't feel like moving but light exercise is helpful in bringing healing to the site of the injury. Try walking or swimming. This is helpful spine and back advice because these activities will increase the flow of blood without risking further damage to the spinal discs.
Spine and back advice #10: Avoid Certain Exercises
Some forms of exercise should be avoided while your back is recovering from an injury. In general, back and spine advice for everyone with a sore back includes avoiding lifting weight over their head, weight-assisted lunges and running and jogging. Ask your doctor what forms of cardio are safe for you.