Your spine is a machine that is made to move and remains strong and flexible by staying active. 80-90% people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives which is why it is important to take a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy spine.
Here are five tips to keeping your back healthy this year
1. Exercise More! A new 2016 research study (systematic review and meta-analysis) links exercise to a 35% reduction in the risk for low back pain. This is just another reason to start an exercise program this year. Reach your fitness goals and minimize your risk for low back pain at the same time.
2. Get more sleep! Sleep quality and quantity play a vital role in maintaining and improving your overall health and well-being. Your spinal discs receive their nutrient supply through diffusion which occurs in an unloaded position while we sleep. Positioning your body in a supported neutral position during the night will allow for all parts of your spinal discs to receive adequate nutrition and stay healthy. Some strategies to get a good night sleep include; Limiting technology use prior to bed, avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before bed, and using relaxation techniques like meditation before bed. It is also recommended that you get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
3. Strengthen your core! Your core muscles give you stability and help to power every move you make throughout the day. There are outer muscles that move your spine and inner muscles that hold your spine together when you move. Having a strong balanced inner/outer core can help to prevent back injuries. Some of my favorite core exercises include bird dogs, dead bugs, and planks. Check out the videos below.
4. Improve Your Posture! Poor posture can place abnormal stresses on your spine and over time lead to dysfunction and pain. Sitting places three times more load on your spinal discs than standing. If your day involves a lot of sitting try to ensure good posture by positioning your feet flat on the ground and your back up against your chair. Positioning your body in a supported aligned seated position will help to lessen the load on your spine. Also, avoid sitting for too long, getting up every 20 minutes to stretch and walk around.
5. Get help if you need it! If you do hurt your back, don't wait for the pain to go away. Starting physical therapy within the first 14 days of injuring your low back can save you (on average) $2700.