Back and neck pain is a fact of life for millions of adults. It affects our ability to work, to enjoy leisure time, concentrate, and just enjoy life in general.
Those with chronic back and neck pain will tell you they wish they had taken better care of their spine. But, it’s never too late to save your spine with these 8 guidelines:
Anyone who has ever had back pain knows how important their sleeping position can be. It’s right up there with the perfect mattress and pillow. Never sleep on your stomach, but do sleep on your side. It not only helps in preventing acid reflux along with sleep apnea, but it’s helpful to relax your back. By sleeping in a proper position you can wake up with little to no pain in the morning, which is everyone’s wish, just like when you were a kid and bounded out of bed to start the day.
We all know that stress can cripple our joints and muscles. The more stress we are under, the more stiff and tight we become. The best way to undo this stress is to move, exercise, and stay active. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week at a minimum is recommended for a healthy adult. Engage in whatever you like from swimming, walking, biking, or anything that involves stretching and aerobics.
Watch Your Posture at Work
Speaking of stress, work can often be our biggest stressor. Sitting in front of a computer all day can wreak havoc on our neck and lower back. So, do all the right things. Keep your feet on the floor, your back straight against the chair, and adjust your chair accordingly. Be sure it has lower back support and the arm rests are in the proper position.
Lift your head while talking on a cell phone or desk phone, and never ever cradle it between your shoulder and ear. Keep knees and hips level, take breaks every hour, move around, and never sit in one position for too long. Taking short breaks is good for your back, your neck, and your eyes.
Yes, drinking water actually helps with spinal comfort. It replenishes the fluid in our joints and our tissue elasticity. Our spinal disks can lose height without the proper hydration. As our disks shrink, they become vulnerable to slipping or becoming herniated. Staying hydrated is especially important as we age and our disks begin to become more brittle. In addition, since being overweight puts extra stress on your lower back, drinking lots of water can help you to lose some weight.
How many times have we heard, “lift with your legs, not with your back”? Yet, we still manage to hurt our back when lifting that heavy bag of mulch while gardening, or that piece of furniture because we just want to see how it looks over there.
Here are some tips to correct how you lift:
- Save your spine while lifting.
- Make sure you have a clear path to move the object
- Keep a wide stance and bend from the legs and not the waist
- Keep the object as close as possible
- Keep your head down and back straight
- If it’s too heavy, just wait and get help
Stretching should be one of the first things you do after getting out of bed, sitting in one position too long, exercising, and yes, before doing housework. Stretching is good for your spine because it helps to keep it flexible. Reduce your risk of injury before you start pushing that vacuum or mopping up the day’s messes by doing some simple stretching.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying around extra weight is one of the worst things you can do for your spine and lower back. Belly fat is not only unhealthy, but it’s also a sure fire way to end up with lower back issues. If you have added a few too many pounds as of late, change your diet to add in more fruits and vegetables while simultaneously trying to eat smaller portions. Your spine, muscles, and back will thank you.
Don’t Ignore the Warning Signs
A twinge here and a little pain there should not be ignored. Your body talks to you, and you should listen. If you are having trouble with certain movements or having unusual pain, see a professional and save your spine before it becomes a significant pain that causes permanent damage and discomfort.