When it comes to a healthy spine, prevention is the key.
We all depend on a healthy back in order to stay active — pain in this area can have a profound effect on our overall health, sometimes preventing us from working or even performing simple daily activities. Yet according to the National Institutes of Health, about 80% of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetime. In some cases determining the cause of back pain can be complicated, but preventing it is actually quite simple.
Consider these 10 tips to help maintain a pain-free back and keep active:
Maintain A Healthy Weight: Additional weight puts a strain on your back. Maintain a weight that is appropriate for your height and frame.
Stay Active: An exercise routine that combines stretching, strengthening, and aerobic activity will keep your back healthy.
Avoid Smoking (Nicotine): Smokers experience more spine pain and heal more slowly.
Maintain a Balanced Diet: Proper nutrition is key. Include foods with Vitamin B12 (functioning), Vitamin C (healing) and Iron (oxygen) in your diet. Avoid consuming excessive carbs.
Lift Using Proper Body Mechanics: Bend your hips and knees to squat down to lift your load, keep it close to your body, and straighten your legs to lift. While lifting, avoid turning or twisting your body and avoid reaching or bending forward.
Get Proper Rest: A good night’s sleep is important to overall health as it allows your body to repair itself. The optimal sleeping position is on your side – on a firm mattress. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Warm Up Prior to Exercise: Proper warm-ups should include more than just stretching the upper and lower back, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Before you stretch, it is important to get your blood circulating and raise your muscles’ temperature. Try a 10-minute low-impact aerobic exercise like: walking, jogging in place, jumping jacks or even jumping rope.
Practice Good Posture: Keep the body in alignment while sitting or standing
for long periods of time. When standing, distribute body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet. When sitting, knees should be at 90 degrees and feet should rest comfortably on the floor.
Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated helps maintain soft tissue elasticity and fluidity in joints.
If It Hurts Don’t Do It: Pay attention to pain and seek medical advice early. Over-training can lead to strained muscles and overuse injuries.