Follow These 6 Simple Tips To Keep Your Spine Healthy
Spine-related problems are common these days especially during the work from home scenario. Here are some tips that help you prevent these.
Maintain a healthy posture while sitting, standing and sleeping to avoid spine-related issues
Spine problems are one of the most burdensome health problems worldwide. With aging and sedentary lifestyle, the number of people affected with spine problems is likely to increase over the coming years. The dictum of "prevention is better than cure" stands true for spine problems too. Here are some tips to get ahead of your spine-related issues.
Tips to prevent spine related issues
Physical exercises form the cornerstone of the prevention program for spine health. Strong and healthy paraspinal and core muscles are essential to support your spine. Exercises to be included in the training program should include- low impact cardiovascular exercise and isometric neck strengthening/back extension/core strengthening exercises. Stretching of hamstrings, thoracolumbar fascia, gluteal muscles, and neck muscles should also be included in the exercise schedule. A trained physiotherapist for guidance may be required.
Low impact cardiovascular exercise includes - walking/brisk walking, Elliptical trainer, step machine, stationary bicycling and swimming. Physical exercises keep the spine functional and mobile, limiting pain flare-ups. Endorphins (a type of local brain hormone) are released during exercises, which elevate mood, relieve depression and act as natural pain killers.
2. Ensure the correct posture
Correct posture while sitting, standing, or walking is a must. While standing, always try to balance your weight evenly on your feet and your head should always be in the line of pelvis and mid-foot.
While sitting, do not slouch and the head should be balanced and in line of the pelvis. The feet should rest flat on the floor and thighs should be parallel to the floor. Do not keep your wallet in your back pocket to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks and lower back. Adjust the height of your table so that line of sight is straight with no need of bending neck forwards.
3. Sleep in a proper position
Sleeping on the back is the best position as it lets your entire spine to rest comfortably. You can roll a small towel and place it at the neck level for support. A small pillow may be comfortable for people with neck stenosis. When you sleep on the sides, the pillow height should be proper so that neck is straight. A medium-firm mattress is usually recommended.
4. Set a reminder for the spine
Try to modify your repetitive tasks. Set a reminder on your clock for every 50 minutes to remind yourself to check your posture, walk for a few minutes, and stretch your neck, lower back and leg muscles. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones.
5. Limit the activities which requires you to carry heavyweights
Prevent injury to your back while lifting weights. Lifting weights while carrying out daily activities as loading or unloading your car, carrying your child or grocery shopping can damage your spine. Lifting with your back bent forwards, or lifting while twisting, may cause a sudden injury to your lower spine. Try to bend your knees rather than your back while reaching out to lift objects from the ground. Pivot your feet and hips, rather than twisting your lower back. Try to hold objects closer to your body while keeping your spine straight.
6. Build healthy habits and lifestyle
Attain and maintain body weight in a normal range. Extra weight with protruding belly shifts centre of gravity forwards and hence puts extra strain on the lower spine.
Stop smoking as smoking is known to increase disc degeneration, one of the main causes of spine problems. Smoking restricts the flow of blood to spinal discs causing early degeneration.
Avoid high heels as they shift the centre of gravity and strain the spine. And lastly, stay hydrated to nourish and hydrate the discs.
(Dr Ashish Dagar is an Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram)
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