Being mindful of our everyday spine health can prevent chronic back pain and improve our overall well-being. Unfortunately, back pain is one of the most common reasons adults will see their doctor behind the common cold. About 80% of adults have experienced back pain in their lifetime.
Spine health is critical to our ability to function and move on a daily basis. Our spine holds our body upright, enables flexible motion of our back and houses our spinal cord. Information from our senses, muscles, joints, and organs all originate in the spine. If anything happens to our spine, it could land us in bed for days or even worse the hospital.
At times it can be difficult to know where the pain is coming from and why. Pain can result from a variety of issues that can be from failed back surgery, injury or degenerative disease. There are several parts of the spine where injury or disease can occur:
- Upper region of vertebrae: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar
- Discs in between the vertebrae
- Lower region that is fused together: sacrum and coccyx
- The spinal cord, starting at the base of the skull and ending in the thoracic spine
- Spinal nerves that travel from the spinal cord out through the body
- Ligaments, strong bands that hold the spinal column together and aid in movement
Being aware of how you can improve spine health can greatly improve your day-to-day life. There are some easy ways you can protect your spine health on a day-to-day basis.
- Strengthen your core. There’s a reason every exercise program includes strength training for our core muscles. Our core supports our entire upper body. If our core muscles are weak, our spine will be supported less and pressure on our lower back will increase. Strengthening your abs or losing belly weight can help ease the stress to your lower back.
- Stretch your muscles. Use a fitness tracker or the timer on your phone to send yourself reminders to stretch during the workday. Oftentimes, we become too busy to listen to our bodies that we create tight muscles in our backs and added stress on our spine and joints.
- Improve your posture. Check to see if your workspace is ergonomic. Proper ergonomics can alleviate conditions ranging from stiff back to headaches and more. Avoid sitting in one position for too long. While working, stay mindful of your posture and frequently adjust your position by straightening your back and rolling back your shoulders.
- Enjoy walking outside. While it might seem like a chore at first, once you get started you’ll be happy you did. Talking brief walks outside for a short break will improve your spine health and your mental health.
- Lift correctly. Use proper body mechanics when lifting to avoid twisting the wrong way. Improper lifting can cause muscle spasm and unnecessary pain.
- Get a good night’s sleep. You can reduce pressure and alleviate back pain with a good mattress and by sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees.
- Watch your weight. Excess weight causes your spine to be tilted or stressed unevenly. Over time, your back can develop an unnatural curvature. Do your best to keep an ideal weight.
- Incorporate spine healthy foods. Look for food that has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants like plant-based proteins, dark green vegetables and food rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Quit smoking. Smoking has a lot of negative consequences. One of them is restricting blood flow to the discs that cushion your vertebrae that could lead to disc degeneration. Smoking also reduces calcium absorption to your bones and increases your risk of a bone fracture.
- Vitamins and nutrients. Making sure you have a balanced diet with the proper nutrients and vitamins is critical to spine health. Be sure to consult with a doctor and get blood work before taking nutritional supplements.
While these are immediate steps you can take to improve your spine health, back pain can still happen. If you suspect you may have experienced a failed back surgery or have been diagnosed with a spine injury or degenerative disease, contact us for a second opinion. The correct diagnosis can help you get the right treatment and alleviate your discomfort or pain. The best part of getting a second opinion from SpineRad is how easy and convenient it is. You don’t have to get a referral to a specialist and you don’t have to go to another time-consuming appointment while suffering from back pain. You can do it all online without having to leave the comfort of your home