Tips for a Healthy Spine
Caring for your spine is one of the best things you can do to maintain your general health and well-being. After all, back pain not only hurts, but it can prevent you from living a full and active life.
Lifting heavy items, or twisting and turning while lifting, are frequently at the root of back injuries. When lifting an item, position your feet firmly, close to the item. Bend your knees. If the object is below your waist, keep your back straight while lifting. When lifting, use your legs to pull the object up steadily—avoid jerking. If it’s too heavy, ask for help.
Good posture is key for continued spinal health, and slouching puts stress on muscles and ligaments and forces them to work harder to keep you balanced. So when standing, keep your weight evenly distributed between both feet, hold your chest up, pull your abdomen and buttocks in and keep your shoulders back and relaxed (not rounded).
Sitting all day in front of a computer has become the norm for most workers. Unfortunately, that isn’t good for your back. Remember to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes at time if at all possible. While sitting, try keeping your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips, your feet flat on the floor and your buttocks touching the back of the chair. Avoid slouching.
Generally, sleeping on a firm mattress (not sagging) that supports your spine will be best for your health. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees. For sleeping on your side, bend your knees slightly and position a pillow between your legs at the knee. For your neck, look for a pillow designed to support it while sleeping.
Stretching backs and necks not only feels good, it helps with flexibility, which in turn, keeps joints working optimally, maintains range of motion and may reduce the risk of injury. So get up and stretch out.
Regular exercise is important for good spinal health because it can help you lose or maintain your weight which avoids putting undue stress on your spine. Exercise may also help you strengthen both back and abdominal muscles, which is good for your posture.
Water is essential for good health, and our musculoskeletal system requires adequate water for soft tissue elasticity and for repair. So, remember what mom said, “Drink at least eight glasses of water every day.”
If you’re overweight, talk with your doctor about losing the excess pounds. Not only will it take pressure off your spine and minimize postural problems and potential disk compression, but it will improve your overall health and well-being.
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