Back pain is something that many adults deal with every single day. Unfortunately, most people don’t pay attention to the way they move and support their back until they have an injury. Paying attention to the little things throughout the day, like posture, mattress choices, and the way you pick things up, can make a huge difference to the lifelong health of your spine. Here are some small tips that could make a big difference.
Having good posture is vital to preventing injury. Lifting heavy objects, shovelling, repeated bending, and hard labour can do a lot of damage your back when performed incorrectly. When you keep your body and spine in proper alignment, lifting and moving is easier to do and it reduces load on the joints and discs. The correct posture for standing and sitting are different.
While standing, keep your shoulders back, your spine straight, and keep both feet on the ground. Keep your hips level and your earlobes in line with your shoulders with your head facing forward.
It is often easier to sit in a chair with a back support, though we recommend spending time away from back supports over short periods so you can become more reliant on your own body to offer the support that’s necessary for good posture. Keep both feet on the ground, spine straight, and hips squared with the shoulders. Your hips should be level with or higher than your knees. Avoid slouching or looking down for too long because this increases the load on your neck, shoulders, and upper (thoracic) spine.
When picking up heavy objects, always lift with your hips and knees, not your back. This will help to engage the powerful muscles in your hips whilst keeping a neutral or static position with your spine, which will minimise the risk of injury. Always clear the path or area before picking up and moving heavy objects to prevent tripping and other injury.
Exercise and Diet
It is important to use correct form when you are lifting any weight but strengthening the muscles in your back and your core can help to prevent injury. Done correctly, weight lifting can build your muscles, providing proper support to your spine and help with good posture. Another form of exercise that is good for the back is yoga. Stretching the spine and holding positions with bodyweight resistance can help to build up strength and can also help to improve posture.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your musculoskeletal health, which is where diet comes in. Carrying extra weight puts more load on your joints, so it’s important to make good nutritional choices that will allow you to maintain a healthy weight. Eating the right foods can also help to reduce some types of back pain. A diet rich in vegetables and foods that help fight inflammation are great for reducing some of the chemical processes present in your perception of pain. Making sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D for bone support can also help to maintain bone density.
Relaxing the Spine
One of the most important ways you can help relieve pressure is to lie down, which is why the mattress you choose and your sleeping position is so important for your back. Choose a mattress that provides enough support for your hips and shoulders so you can keep your spine neutral while you lay down. The pillow you choose should support your neck in the right way too.
Sleeping is important, but there are other elements that are important to consider, learning how to move more efficiently or naturally can spare your spine, this can give you alternative ways of doing your normal day to day activities which will help you to continue doing the things you enjoy for longer. Addressing muscle or joint dysfunction with a chiropractor can help you achieve a higher functional capacity so your body can perform at its best.
Once you get into better habits, a lot of these adjustments will become second nature. Remember that creating a stronger, healthier back now is much better than treating a painful, deconditioned one in the future. You only get one back, so treat it well.