Maintaining a strong, healthy back is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
Back injuries and back pain can not only be a major inconvenience, but can interfere with your ability to stay healthy and active. Consider these simple measures to help maintain the health of your spine and back muscles:
Try to avoid slouching when you sit—it’s important to maintain the natural curve of your spine. If you work for many hours at a computer or desk, remember to get up often to walk around and stretch. Sitting on a yoga ball chair or an ergonomic chair can also be helpful. Keeping your monitor at eye level will help you maintain good posture, so if you work on a laptop frequently, use a stand to position your laptop screen at the appropriate height. Also be aware that overusing your smart phone or other devices can cause an unnatural posture that can lead to neck pain.
When standing for long periods of time, keep one foot in front of the other with your knees slightly bent to prevent unnecessary strain on your lower back.
It only takes lifting something the wrong way once to cause a lot of pain. Remember the saying, “lift with your legs, not your back.” Avoid bending and twisting while lifting as this makes injury far more likely. If you need to lift something heavy, it’s always best to ask for help.
It’s ideal to carry things in a balanced way. Heavy purses, for example, always carried on one shoulder can lead to unnecessary back and neck strain, as can carrying young children on a regular basis. Try using ergonomic child carriers that balance the weight evenly around your hips.
Regular exercise will help keep your back muscles strong and can also alleviate stress, which is known to exacerbate back problems. Exercise programs that both strengthen and stretch your back muscles, such as yoga, are ideal. Tight muscles, not only in your back but also in your legs and hips, can result in back pain and strain. For example, tight hamstrings shift your pelvis into an unnatural position and make back strain more likely.
Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, including maintaining a healthy back. And sleeping in the wrong position can cause unnecessary back strain. For example, sleeping on your back can put pressure on the lower back, which can be alleviated by placing a pillow or bolster under your knees. Or, you may find it more comfortable to sleep on your side with a pillow between the knees.
Eating a plant-based, anti-oxidant rich diet will provide the nutrients your body needs to keep your nerves and muscles nourished and supple. Healthy fats, easily digestible proteins, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are optimal for back and spine health and for helping you reach and/or maintain your ideal weight. Shedding extra pounds can also greatly reduce unnecessary strain on your back muscles.