Many people suffer from back pain at some point during their lives, ranging from a passing discomfort to a genuinely debilitating injury. We put our spines through a lot in our every day lives, and the regular stress on joints and muscle can really takes its toll over time.
Back pain can be eased using a combination of treatments such as physiotherapy, acupuncture and exercise plans, but it’s important to do as much as you can to limit the damage to your spine in the first place. So here are 10 tips on how you can protect your back and avoid lasting damage that could cause you real trouble in the future.
1. Sleep Well
During the night you often remain in one position for long periods of time, which means that it is important for that position to be a healthy one. Make sure you choose a mattress that is neither too hard or too soft so that your weight is adequately supported. Don’t pile up too many pillows and aim for a sleeping position in which your spine is straight and level.
2. Eat Well
The less you weigh, the less hard your body has to work as you move around. By eating well and maintaining a healthy body mass index your spine will suffer less wear and tear throughout the day.
Regular exercise can help to strengthen the muscles in your back, keeping them supple and flexible enough to cope with lifting, bending and moving. Take care not to push your exercise too hard, but with gentle and consistent work you can help to reduce the risk of suffering a sprain.
4. Smoke Less
Cigarettes can have a negative impact on your blood vessels and impede the flow of blood into your vertebral discs. Over time this can cause deterioration of the muscles, which are vital to the strength and flexibility to your back. If you can cut back or quit smoking it will help to slow this process down.
5. Bend at the Knees
When you need to lift something, make sure you bend down at the knees, rather than at the hip. This allows your spine to create a sturdy central column which can then provide the lifting force without putting undue strain on individual areas of a bent spine.
6. Hold Loads Close
If an object is held out in front of your body, the pressure on your spine increases dramatically. Tuck your elbows into your body and hold the load as close to your body as possible, especially when you are moving it.
7. Sit Properly
There is more pressure on your spine while you are sitting down than while you are standing, so it’s important to make sure your chair is sufficiently meeting your needs. An ergonomic chair should feature adjustable arm and back rests, including adequate support to the lumbar region of your lower back. Make sure that your feet comfortably reach the ground when your seat is high enough for you to reach the desk.
8. Arrange Your Desk
If you spend a significant amount of time using a computer it is important to make sure that it is set up correctly. The top of your screen should be level with your eyes, your keyboard and mouse should be within easy reach and your desk should have enough space for you to work comfortably at it.
9. DON’T Do the Twist
Our backs are amazing and a healthy spine is capable of moving in a huge range of directions. Unfortunately, it is easy to take this range of movement for granted and start to abuse our backs without even thinking about it. Your back should only move in one direction at a time, so take care to avoid twisting your spine unnecessarily, especially when you are bending or lifting.
10. Use a Backpack
If you’re carrying something heavy there is no shame in enlisting a little extra help. If you need to use a bag you should always opt for a double strapped rucksack that will distribute the weight evenly across both shoulders and put less pressure on one particular side.
This post was written by Nicky Hand. If you are suffering from back pain then a chiropractor could help to get you back to your best. I’d recommend the friendly team at Central Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Clinic, who offer a tailored solution to every patient.