How to keep your spine healthy and prevent back pain as you age?
With a gentle S-shape, the spine is a remarkable and stable system that sustains the whole body. A healthy spine balances the neck, chest, lower back, and pelvis and keeps the head, trunk, and legs in alignment. If you are struggling from back pain due to an unhealthy spine, you are certainly not alone.
The Factors Behind Backaches
Ever wondered why your back troubles you so much? The BMC Public Health’s research suggests that heavy workload could be a major contributor. If you have a desk job, you are likely to suffer from backache soon. As per the same research, carrying a hefty backpack can also cause back pain.
Did you know that over 65% of Americans carry bags that are too heavy?
Then, don’t forget about your posture. According to the American Pain Institute, bad posture can strain your back. Slouching at your desk or hunching over your smartphone contributes to this strain. A lack of exercise is another common issue. If you are living a sedentary lifestyle, your core muscles will become weaker sooner.
A whopping 619 million grapple with debilitating back pain.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, adults aged 65 and up often deal with back pain. Back pain characterized by the way you use (or abuse) your body is not determined by your age. 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain in their lifetime. Having said that, you still have the power to take control of your spine’s health. So, if you find yourself grappling with persistent back pain, this blog is for you.
Here are 13 ways to maintain a healthy spine.
Keep your back straight
Stand tall like you are ready to take on the world. Imagine a gentle string pulling you up from the top of your head. This posture boosts your confidence. Along with that, it does wonders for your back. When you keep your shoulders back, you spread the load on your spine, reducing back pain risk. So, stand up straight and let your spine relax.
Ideal posture for a healthy spine shape
Think back to when your grandma used to say, “Sit up straight, dear!” She was onto something. When seated, ensure your feet are straight on the ground. It should be higher than your hips. This way, your lower back enjoys some support. Slouching or hunching over might not be as fun as it looks in the movies; it can lead to long-term back issues.
Smartly reach for objects
Avoid sudden and jerky movements. Take careful and measured steps to get to the objects you need. Don’t twist or turn your back unexpectedly. Use a stool to reach for things that are higher than you. Your back will thank you for following these easy tips.
Use your leg muscles to do the heavy lifting. Keep the load close to your body. Kneel on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor. This technique spreads the weight across your body. It will cut back the strain on your back.
Carry manageable load
Do not attempt to be a hero when it comes to carrying heavy loads. It is okay to make two trips or ask for help. Imagine if you had to carry a large object. In that case, keep the object close to your body. Your spine will love you for your practical approach.
Keep your legs slightly bent when you stand
Bending your knees, a bit when you stand can help relieve pressure on your spinal column, rather than keeping them straight and locked.
Lower your body by kneeling
Do not bend from the waist as it can harm your spine. Bend your knees and lower your whole body when you need to bend.
Take up sports: swimming, running, and cycling
You can have fun and stay fit by doing sports that make your heartbeat faster and your muscles work harder. Swimming, running, cycling, and other sports are great ways to maintain a healthy back.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Focus on a balanced diet and regular exercise. Shedding those extra pounds is not about looking great. It is about reducing the strain on your back. By maintaining a healthy weight, you are doing your back a huge favor.
While sleeping, think of your mattress and pillows as the trusty sidekicks. It will support your spine. It is because sleeping on your back puts 55 pounds of pressure on your back. Invest in a comfortable mattress and choose pillows that align your spine. You can put pillows beneath your knee cut. When sleeping on the side, place a pillow around your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it can disrupt the natural curve of your spine.
Smoking is like a supervillain when it comes to your back health. Nicotine found in smoking products restricts blood flow to the spinal discs. Eventually, it deprives them of essential nutrients. So, you can be the hero by quitting smoking if you do.
Healthy Spine Exercises
Incorporate regular stretching exercises into your daily routine. It will keep your back muscles as flexible and robust as a gymnast. Stretching not only eases tension in your back but also improves your flexibility. If you have minor pain in your back, you can use anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen. Here are 8 exercises for a healthy spine.
Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI), 2018. Knee to chest stretching. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8gAyDUh2bs
Thoracic Rotation Extension
Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, 2017. Thoracic rotation extension. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY7AqP7qCpM
(source: Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI), 2018. Knee to chest stretching. YouTube. https://youtu.be/u0AJnVg0tcc?si=Vw9QgoFM1rsZAtrj)
(source: Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI), 2018. Knee to chest stretching. YouTube. https://youtu.be/A9F7SA713H4?si=q7s3BDgcdbGuWHIw)
Partial abdominal curl
(source: Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI), 2018. Knee to chest stretching. YouTube. https://youtu.be/94ELAe3dtIg?si=murPbwWrE77TrhJC)
Shoulder blade squeeze
(source: Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI), 2018. Knee to chest stretching. YouTube. https://youtu.be/vY90UK6ZEOg?si=MpWrFwsyAGWCrjO2)
Chin to chest stretch
(source: Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative (CCGI), 2018. Knee to chest stretching. YouTube.https://youtu.be/66lW62aTmN0?si=5y4BVbLcBslyYfz0)
Overall, by following these simple tips, you can make your back muscles strong. Your back, much like an American hero, will stand by your side, grateful for your wise choices. Your back is a vital part of your body that supports your movement, posture, and nervous system. To keep your back healthy and prevent back pain, you should follow these tips: exercise regularly, keep your back straight, kneel to bend, don’t lift heavy objects, spread out loads evenly, support your upper body when sitting, keep your knees soft when standing, keep your legs bent when lying down, do sports, and train your spinal muscles every day. These tips will help you maintain your back’s natural shape, reduce pressure on your vertebrae, and strengthen your back muscles. By taking care of your back, you will improve your overall health and well-being.
2023. 619 Million Affected by Low Back Pain Globally in 2020. Health Day. https://www.healthday.com/healthpro-news/bone-and-joint/physician-s-briefing-lbp-660720083.html#:~:text=The%20researchers%20found%20that%20low,832%20per%20100%2C000%20in%202020.
2023. Lifestyle Medicine for Chronic Lower Back Pain: An Evidence-Based Approach. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8299916/
2023. Ways to Relieve Back Pain. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/ss/slideshow-relieving-back-pain
2023. Back pain causes at any age. Sutter Health. https://www.sutterhealth.org/health/back-spine/back-pain-causes-at-every-age