Your spine is the central structure for your entire body, and as such it withstands a good deal of stress throughout the course of your day. It is extremely resilient and strong, but sometimes your back can feel stiff, sore or painful and that can be debilitating at times. There are, however, ways to keep your back feeling healthy and strong, and to manage pain when it does arise.
- Postural variability. Your mother was right. Sitting up straight is important, but so is slumping, and everything in between. Good postural variability, whether sitting or standing, is a natural behavior, but sometimes we get into a movement or position habit that reduces your spine mobility. This can create unnecessary strain, due to limited availability of different postures. So, explore all possibilities of postures but don’t stay in any one posture for too long.
- Try not to sit or stand for too long at a time. If your job requires you to sit or stand for extended periods of time, be sure to get up and move yourself every hour or so. If you can’t, go ahead and change positions regularly in your chair or where you are standing. Take a walk, do some yoga – just make sure you are moving. This activity prevents your spine from feeling stiff – and might just help you to focus a little more as well!
- Get regular exercise. Exercise strengthens your muscles and helps to support your spine. In addition to the many other benefits of exercise, it also contributes to a healthy back. Your chiropractor or physiotherapist can help you to develop an appropriate exercise regime to promote a healthy spine and improve your range of motion.
- Know how to lift. We’ve all been told to “lift with your legs” but it’s hard to always put this advice into practice. It’s important when moving really heavy objects to do so in a smart manner. If you are unaccustomed to lifting heavy objects, ask a friend to help to avoid an injury. Remember to not overdo it, but also remember that our backs are strong, robust structures that can help us lift very heavy loads if we train them to do so.
- “Be aware of heavy purses or backpacks.” Now this one is a myth. Typically, a purse or backpack is nowhere near heavy enough to actually strain the muscles of our back (remember, the back is really resilient). However, this myth probably stems from the fact that if our nervous system is a little sensitive and we are worried about our back being injured, it doesn’t take much to push us over the limit and to experience pain that is not related to tissue damage. Fear can be a significant driver of the pain experience.
- Ensure that you are eating a healthy diet. Individuals who enjoy a healthy diet are better able to maintain muscle strength and heal from injury. Furthermore, poor health may contribute to back pain, so aiming for healthy eating habits and lifestyle can really help to reduce back problems.
- Make sure your mattress is appropriate for your needs. Oftentimes patients with chronic back pain can benefit from the purchase of a quality mattress that supports them and provides a good night’s sleep. Adequate sleep combined with reduction of life’s other stressors may provide relief from pain and improvement of spinal symptoms.
- See a professional (or two). Whether you’ve suffered an injury or are dealing with unexplained or chronic back pain, it’s important to seek out professional care that can help you to get back to your life as quickly as possible. Chiropractors, Massage Therapists and Physiotherapists are all experienced and trained to help you achieve relief and learn tools to help you diminish suffering from future back problems. Depending on your illness or injury, you may benefit from the care and expertise of one of these practitioners, or a combination of all three.
If you are looking for advice to maintain back health or are looking for therapeutic services to help you manage your pain, give us a call to see how we can help. We will consult with you regarding your health concerns and come up with a proactive plan to get you doing the things you love to do.