Tips for a Healthy Spine

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Eighty to ninety percent of the population will have an episode of spinal pain at some point in their life. Most prone to spinal pain are obese and overweight people, those whose work entails carrying heavy loads, smokers, and people who had suffered from back pain in the past.

People who suffer from back pain, especially long-term, are generally less healthy compared to those who have healthy spine. Aside from the pain they undergo, they are also generally less productive. They have to take time-off from work every now and then especially when the pain becomes unbearable and during treatment time. They also have to spend substantial amount on medical expenses such as on doctor’s fees and medications.

It is important for you to keep your spine healthy and in the best condition to avoid spinal pain. Care for your spine could be taken through proper posture and observing some pointers with regards to some body movements such as lifting and carrying weights, bending and lying in bed and other health precautions.

Posture – Standing

  • Take the pressure off your back by keeping one foot slightly in front of the other and your knees slightly bent when you stand.
  • Avoid bending from your waist for prolonged periods as the muscles in your low back may be deconditioned and pain may ensue.

Posture – Sitting

  • Be conscious about trying to maintain the natural spine curvature in your low back.
  • In the sitting position, it is best that your knees are slightly higher than your hips, while your head is up and your back straight.
  • Avoid slouching.

Lifting

  • Never twist when lifting. Many cases of slipped disk are caused by twisting especially when lifting.
  • Pushing a heavy load is easier on your back than lifting. When doing this, try to use your legs, not your back.
  • Get help when you cannot avoid lifting a heavy item.

Carrying

  • Keep object to be carried, especially if it is heavy, as close to your body as possible.
  • Halving the load into two smaller items and carrying them – one in each hand – is easier to manage than a single large item.

Bending and Reaching

  • Use a stool when reaching for an object above shoulder level.
  • When picking items up from the floor, do not bend over at the waist.
  • The proper way to do this is to kneel down on one knee, and with the other foot flat on the floor, pick up the item.
  • The other proper way to pick an item up from the floor is bend at the knees, and lift with your legs, not with your back.

Sleeping

  • Avoid sleeping on your back as it puts substantial pressure – about 50 pounds – on your spine.
  • If you must sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees.
  • Lying on your side with a pillow between you knees is an acceptable position.
  • Find the best position your body will tell you.

Diet and Health

  • Maintain your weight at the ideal level. Extra body weight puts undue strain on your spine.
  • Belly fat puts unwanted pressure on your back’s muscles, tendons and ligaments.
  • Eat a healthy diet and do regular exercise to reduce weight.
  • Quit smoking. Smokers feel more spine pain than non-smokers. Chemicals in tobacco smoke impede the flow of blood to the tissues around your spine.

These are simple and mostly common-sense advice we should strive to follow to help us keep our spine in the best shape, prevent spine pain from coming and ultimately enjoy a healthier life.

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