Tips for Keeping Your Spine Healthy and Strong
There’s no denying the importance of spine health. Just ask anyone who’s experienced even moderate back pain—it’s devastating and can spread well beyond the back to other parts of the body. Meanwhile, significant back pain can completely derail one’s lifestyle, leaving them unable to perform simple tasks like walking, driving, or sitting for extended periods of time.
That’s why it’s so crucial to take care with your spine. In fact, it should be on one’s mind at all times. Before engaging in any activity, one should ask themselves if they’re putting themselves at risk. It’s a question worth exploring in any situation. So, how can you take care of your spine?
1. Exercise Regularly
Whether you’re talking about losing weight or keeping your back feeling great, exercising regularly is hugely important. Exercise regimens that focus in on stretching the spine and connecting tissues and muscles can play a significant role in keeping the spine healthy and pain-free.
Of course, it’s also important to build strength in other muscle groups, including those in the back, legs, and stomach. Having strong muscles in these areas can reduce pressure on the spine and lessen the chance of sustaining a serious back injury.
2. Take Care When Sitting
We don’t associate sitting with back injuries—at least, we rarely expect to sustain a significant back injury when sitting at our desks or on our couches. But how we sit can actually play an important part in determining our chances of experiencing back pain.
If your job involves a lot of sitting, make sure you have an ergonomically sound chair and desk. Many workplaces provide ergonomic assessments to ensure your desk and chair are in the correct position. If that’s the case, take advantage of the offering. Finally, be absolutely sure to take regular breaks from sitting to go for short walks around or outside the office.
3. Take a Walk
To lose weight you usually need to engage in intense physical activity, from running to cycling or playing sports like basketball, soccer or hockey. But walking can be extremely helpful when it comes to maintaining the health of your spine.
That’s because walking can help to build core muscles, enhance flexibility, and strengthen bone structure. Because it stretches and strengthens a range of muscles, it can also help to alleviate back pain if you’ve already sustained a back injury.
4. Apply Heat
Anyone who’s sustained a moderate or serious back injury knows the pain can be unbearable. To help reduce the pain associated with back pain, consider applying heat to the problem area.
Heat helps by increasing blood flow to the injury area; in turn, this can encourage the healing of those muscles that have been damaged. Heat, which can also help to relieve muscle spasms, can be applied through heating pads, wraps or even medicinal creams.
5. Sleep Right
We spend roughly one-third of our lives in bed, so it makes sense for people concerned about spine health to take care when sleeping. First, that means using a mattress that’s designed with your body in mind. Put simply, don’t skimp when buying a mattress—try a few out and avoid deals that appear too good to be true.
Second, take just as much care when choosing a pillow. A thicker pillow can be a better fit for those who tend to sleep on their side, since it can help to ensure your neck and head remain positioned between your shoulders. But if you tend to sleep on your back, a slimmer pillow may be more appropriate.
6. Lift Properly
There’s no denying that strength training with weights can help to build muscle in all regions of the body, thereby reducing the chances of sustaining a spinal injury. However, it’s important to take care when lifting weights. That’s because poor form when lifting can cause spinal joints to lock or even rupture, causing intense pain that can last for days, weeks, even months.
That’s why it’s important to properly research lifting exercises before hitting the gym. If you’re still unclear on how you should be performing lifting routines, consult an expert, such as a licensed fitness trainer.
7. Take a Dip
You might not think to go for a swim if you’ve sustained a mild or moderate back injury, but exercising in a pool can actually help improve spine health and repair damaged muscles in the back. That’s because pool exercise cuts the downward pressure of gravity, providing more support to the spine and reducing or eliminating back pain.
At the same time, water exercise helps blood flow, increases heart rate, burns calories, and enhances muscle growth and regeneration. In cases where a significant back injury has occurred, simply being immersed in water—especially warmer water—can help reduce pain and improve blood flow.
8. Get a Massage
Massage therapy can offer huge benefits to those who are worried about their spine health or who have already sustained a back injury of some kind. By applying pressure to sensitive areas of the body, massage therapy can help to improve blood circulation and enhance spinal range of motion.
In the short term this can help to soothe damaged or sore muscles, but it can also help with other problems, including insomnia. Of course, massage therapy isn’t the only step one must take to overcome back injury—regular stretching and exercise are also crucial, as they help to build strength and improve bone structure.
9. Eat Well
Is there really a link between the food we eat and the health of our spines? Actually, there is. High-calcium food items like cheese, yogurt and milk can help to maintain the strength of our bones, while high-protein foods like meat can help keep our muscles strong and flexible.
At the same time, it’s important to avoid high-calorie and high-fat foods that can increase our weight and put more pressure on the spine. Try to limit these foods and those that include a lot of sugar. Instead, stick to fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and nuts.
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