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Helpful Hints for Keeping Your Back Healthy
Helpful Hints for Keeping Your Back Healthy

The spine supports the framework of the body, and the spinal cord, which connects the nervous system to the brain, is housed within the vertebrae. Muscles running through the back give support to the spine, help protect the spine, and aid the body in lifting, standing, and holding the body upright. If the back gets injured, the entire body suffers. Use these tips to maintain a healthy back.

  • Maintain good posture. Although slumping or slouching may feel “good” in the moment, My Health Alberta points out that this unnatural posture places an increased strain on areas that have been damaged before. The lower back, shoulders, and neck are just some of the commonly affected spots. Good posture has the ears, shoulders, and hips aligned in a straight line while sitting and standing.
    • While sleeping, attempt to maintain the “natural curves” of the body by placing a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side, or under your knees if you sleep on your back.
    • When sitting, place your feet flat on the floor keeping your knees level with your hips.
    • While using a mobile device, keep it at eye level so as not to crane the neck downward.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. How much does weight really affect back pain? Summit Orthopedic states, “When your weight slips into an unhealthy range over time, the risk of degenerative disc disease increases by 30 to 79 percent.” In addition, the risk of discs rupturing, slipping, and becoming herniated increases as well as pinched nerves. Making an effort to maintain a healthy body weight improves your back’s health and your overall body’s health. It’s a win-win proposition.
  • Lift weight properly. Many back injuries occur from improper lifting techniques. The Kennedy Space Center gives these tips on how to lift objects in order to avoid back injury.
    • Bend at the legs, not the waist, to lift heavy objects.
    • If the object is small, use a “golfer’s lift,” letting one leg lift while bending at the waist. This alleviates undo strain on the lower back.
    • Never twist to move the object. Rather, pivot. Always keep your toes pointing to where you want the object placed.
    • Keep the load close to your body.
    • If the object is ungainly or too heavy, use a partner.
  • Exercise your back. Aerobic exercise is good for the heart, and weight-lifting tones and sculpts other muscles like the arms and legs, but how do you keep your back strong? The muscles around your back and your abdominal muscles need to be exercised regularly so that your spine is properly supported and protected. The Mayo Clinic offers several core-strengthening exercises that are easy to do every day.
    • Knee-to-chest exercise – Lie on your back and draw one knee to your chest, holding it in place with both hands while tightening your abdominal muscles and pressing your back to the floor. Hold this position for five seconds. Release the leg, and then repeat with the opposite leg. Then draw both legs up.
    • Lower back rotation – Lie on your back with your knees up and your feet planted on the floor. Rotate your knees to one side while holding your shoulders stationary. Hold the position for five to ten seconds. Then rotate your knees to the opposite side and hold for five to ten seconds. Repeat the rotation set two to three times.
    • The bridge – Lie on your back with your feet firmly planted on the floor and your knees up. With your hands lying on the floor at your sides, tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your pelvis, lifting your hips off the floor to form a “bridge.” Hold the position for three deep breaths. Start with five repetitions and build up to thirty.
    • The cat – Get on your hands and knees. Arch your back like a cat; then, slowly let your back and belly sag down towards the floor in a reverse arch. Repeat the moves three to five times.
  • Clean safely. Cleaning your house or business is just a part of life that cannot be escaped. Prevention says to be sure that while you are cleaning, you practice good techniques to protect your back.
    • While mopping, move like you’re dancing with a partner, keeping your elbows close and avoiding twisting.
    • While vacuuming be sure to “stand upright and move with the vacuum.”
    • Never strain to reach areas that are above you. Instead, use a stool to reach the high spots.
    • If you must stand for a long period of time, place one foot on a large stool or box and switch which foot is bearing the weight often.

People take the back for granted until something happens. Rather than being reactive, be proactive. Take precautions to keep your back and spine healthy, for protecting your back means protecting your quality of life. If you should find you have injured your back, seek out help from one our specialists at Atlanta Brain and Spine Care.

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