10 tips to prevent spine problems
Here is a short exercise for you – sit back, adjust your spinal arch, stretch and fix your posture. Well done, you just took the first step towards protecting your spine. Back spine problems are highly common in both young and old people. Nearly 20% of the younger generation suffers from some form of a back ailment. These problems may progress if the right treatment is not given. In this article, Dr Debashish Chanda, a leading orthopaedic surgeon offers simple tips to prevent spine problems.
The health of your back is essential for your complete well-being. However, you cannot stop the clock of age from ticking. As your age progresses, the problems in your spinal column are likely to aggravate. You can prevent common spine problems in older adults by practising simple tips from the comfort of your home.
Tips to prevent spine problems
The anatomy of your body changes throughout your life. As you grow old, your tissues age and lead to degenerative changes in your spine.
Back spine problems are universal to all adults. It is, therefore, necessary to take prevention.
Here are the top tips to prevent spine problems as you age:
Invest in a firm mattress
Your spinal health does not depend only on how you sit or stand, your sleeping position is also equally important. Marketers have made the general population believe that the softest mattress can provide maximum comfort.
However, if you wish to keep your spine healthier for a long period, you should invest in a rather firm mattress. A moderately stiff mattress offers extended support to your spine while sleeping. Common spine problems in older adults can be avoided by replacing your soft mattress with a firm one.
Place a pillow to support your knees
Your body posture during sleep needs a natural alignment to prevent spine problems. If you sleep on your back, you should put a pillow beneath your knees. The small elevation levels offer comfort required by the spinal column.
If you are a side sleeper, you should place a pillow between your knees for support. Pillows can help maintain the right hip balance. This simple prevention tip can go a long way.
Do not slouch
If you are wondering how to prevent back pain instantly, you should analyse and fix your posture. It is certain that your body posture ultimately determines the health of your back. It also considerably enhances your appearance. We tend to slouch forward while sitting.
Young adults are more prone to developing a state of painful slouch as they spend an increasing amount of time on screen. You should aim to limit your screen time and fix your posture to restore the strength of your back.
Your body posture while standing and walking should also be well balanced. Do not bend at one side or round your shoulders forward while standing. You should maintain a straight back especially after walking to avoid disc problems.
Be physically active
The more you flex a muscle, the more strength it will gain. The core muscles, located at the centre of the lower back and abdomen, are vital for spine health. However, these muscles are rarely put to good use during our everyday activities.
You should do spine-related exercises to prolong its natural strength of the core muscles. There is a range of activities and the best exercise for spine problem you can choose from – endurance exercises, stretching, low-impact aerobics, balancing, exercise ball workouts and jogging.
Try to incorporate a few abdominal strength exercises also to your workout regime for complete wellness of core muscles.
Buy the right shoes
There is always an appropriate pair of shoes for a certain occasion and purpose. Just like high heels are designed for parties and tennis shoes are suitable for a game of tennis, there are best shoes for spine problems to offer specific support.
You should wear low-heeled shoes that offer complete support to the base of your feet. Avoid wearing shoes that are excessively tight or loose at the back of your heel. While shopping for the ideal shoes, make sure that your body is rightly aligned while walking.
Also, read: From bunions to hammertoes : How to avoid the shoes that kill your feet
Go for a back massage or physical therapy
One of the most comforting tips to prevent spine problems is to have a massage once in a while. A back massage or physical therapy allows for a loosening of pressure points. The flow of blood towards the back is also increased with a good massage.
There are various additional benefits of a back massage – for instance, it can help you relax after a long stressful day and free tight connective tissues. Routine physiotherapy and back massages can make you forget what is spine problem.
Invest in an ergonomic chair
If your work requires you to sit for prolonged hours, it is about time that you should consider ergonomic chairs. These sitting chairs are specifically designed to support your back and shoulder at office hours.
Working from an ergonomic chair for spine problems can loosen the pressure built in the discs of your lower spine. These chairs help you readjust your posture and offer support to the curves and core muscles.
However, you should still take minute breaks from sitting time and again. You should move your spine constantly to avoid hurting your back.
Give up on smoking
Tobacco consumption affects your spinal column as well as other organs. With ageing, your spine requires a good flow of blood to function properly. Smoking interrupts this blood flow to the discs. It also promotes cardiovascular and other health conditions.
Poor heart health will lead to poor blood circulation and directly impact your spine strength. Besides, smoking cigarettes impedes the process of healing. The amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the discs are reduced due to nicotine leading to an increased chance of back injury.
Increase your calcium intake
One of the best tips to relieve lower back pain is to eat more calcium. The relation between calcium and bone strength is evident. A reduced level of calcium in your body can lead to problems such as osteoporosis. As you age, your body requires more calcium.
Additionally, you would need elevated levels of Vitamin D to utilise the calcium presence. Your diet should inculcate foods that are good sources of calcium and vitamin D. Some top choices of foods include milk, cheese, egg yolk, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, fish and more.
Lift objects carefully
Most people tend to make mistakes while lifting objects. These mistakes are very minute and can be easily ignored. However, as you age, lifting objects (heavy or light) improperly can cause spine complications ranging from a minor sprain to a complex injury. You need to practice care even while lifting small objects such as laptop cases, grocery bags and more.
You can prevent spine problems associated with lifting by following simple instructions.
- Divide the weight of an object by carrying it on both shoulders.
- Shift the object from one shoulder to another to avoid straining of muscles at one side
- While lifting a heavy object, bend at your knees instead of your back
- Straighten your spine by holding the object closer to your chest
The concluding note
Spinal cord problems can adversely affect a person’s quality of life. However, spine problems and solutions go hand-in-hand. While age-related symptoms cannot be entirely avoided, you can practise the tips to prevent spine problems.
For a personalised plan on how to prevent back pain or improve spine health, you can consult Dr Debashish Chanda at the CK Birla Hospital.
Ques: What causes spine problems?
Ans: Spine problems can be caused by various factors such as repeated heavy lifting, back injury, constant strain on the back, bulging disks and more.
Ques: What problems can you have with your spine?
Ans: Common spine problems include slipped disk, osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, broken back, low back strains and neck strain.
Ques: Can cervical spine problems cause sinus problems?
Ans: Yes, the nerves that control the sinus membranes are directly related to the upper cervical spine. A misalignment in this area can lead to sinus and headache problems.
Ques: Which exercise is best for the spine?
Ans: Back flexion exercise, knee to chest stretch, chin to chest stretch and hip stretch are some top exercises for the spine.
Ques: When should you see a spine specialist?
Ans: You should see a spine specialist if your symptoms are affecting your everyday activities. If your spinal problems are causing difficulties in walking, make sure to seek urgent clinical help.
Also, read: Tips to keep your back healthy and straight