While few of us think about our spinal health on a daily basis, studies show that 80-90% of people will be affected by a spinal issue or back pain at one point during their lifetime. Besides the victims of accidents, those with the highest risk are smokers, heavy lifters and people who are overweight. These facts offer strong support for maintaining a healthy spine and back to help avoid injury and pain.
Here are some top strategies for helping to maintain a healthy spine and back.
Diet and Exercise
Identify your ideal body weight, and then stay within 10 pounds of it. Carrying around excess body weight puts stress on every part of your frame, which includes your spine.
Core Muscle Strength
Not only is stomach fat unattractive, but it will also pull your whole body out of alignment, and will have the biggest impact on your lower back.
- Support your body while you sleep. Pain is never normal, and if you experience pain when you are attempting to sleep, then you need to find a new position that will alleviate the pain.
- People who sleep on their back put almost 50 additional pounds of pressure on their spine that is reduced by almost half when a supporting pillow is placed under their knees.
- People who sleep on their side can reduce the pressure on their spine by putting a pillow between their knees.
- Standing with your knees locked will put pressure on your lower back. You can relax your stance by placing one foot in front of the other, and bending slightly at your knees.
- Avoid standing while bent at the waist, as this will place undue stress on your spine at the same time.
- Always use your legs when you lift. Never lift with just your back muscles.
- Avoid twisting when you lift.
- If you can push or pull an item instead of lifting it, then do so. Always push before pulling, and always use your leg muscles to lower the back strain.
- Ask for assistance.
- When carrying an object, keep it close your body and spread the weight between both of your hands
- Avoid slumping in chairs. Keep your back, shoulders and spine straight. Do not allow your shoulders to become rounded or let your lower back lose the natural curve.
- Your knees should be a little higher than your hips.
- Keep your head up and look straight forward.
Bending and Reaching
- Bend your legs when picking items up from below your waist level. Never bend at your waist.
- If you reach for an item that is higher than your shoulder height, use a stool. When you strain to reach something that is above your head, you can cause injury to your shoulders, neck and middle-back.
- Put your body as close to the object as you can for a further reduction to potential strain.