Most of us take the health of our spine for granted . . . until something goes wrong. Luckily, there are ways to make sure your spine stays in tip-top condition throughout the years.
Tip #1 – Stay Mobile – A spine must be kept active in order to continue functioning properly. Therefore, stay active! Maintaining good core strength is a priority. “Motion is lotion for the spine,” explains Dr. George Charuk, D.O., physiatrist at Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute. “Staying active is going to keep the joints limber, which will make for a healthier spine.”
Tip #2 – Adjust Your Chair – The sad reality of today’s world is that many of us spend our days hunched in our desk chair typing away. Sitting properly in your chair is going to have long-term benefits for your spine. The chair itself should also have a good lumbar support that will ensure you are sitting up in the correct position throughout the day.
Tip #3 – Maintain a Healthy Weight – For optimal spine health, it’s essential to maintain a healthy weight for your frame. Excess weight causes unneeded stress to the spine, which will eventually result in back pain.
Tip #4 – Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables – Proper nutrition is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy spine. Fill your diet with leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits to ensure all of your body parts continue to operate properly.
Tip #5 – Quit Smoking – Studies show that smoking is not only detrimental to your heart and lungs, but also quite harmful to your spine. “The discs of your back receive the crucial blood supply, and nicotine can choke off that blood supply,” explains Dr. Nitin Khanna, partner at Spine Care Specialists in Munster.
Tip #6 – Get a Good Night's Sleep – While purchasing a brand new and often expensive mattress may help your back pain, keep in mind that it might not be the culprit of your pain. Consider also the pillows and the positions you sleep in, and the effects they might be having on your spine.
Tip #7 – Invest in Proper Footwear – It just might be time to throw the flip-flops away . . . forever. The average person takes over 6,000 steps during the course of a day, and supportive footwear will help ensure the spine is aligned correctly.
Tip #8 – Drink Lots of Water – An adequate amount of water is vital to good health. In fact, the spine actually requires water to not only function, but repair itself.
Tip #9 – Listen to the Signals – There are ways to know when your pain is far more serious than an achy back. “If one experiences shooting pains down one's back or difficult walking, it might be time to see a specialist,” Dr. Khanna says. “Also, if you have pain that wakes up from sleeping, it’s time to get a professional opinion.”
Tip #10 – Consult a Professional – We all wake up with our share of aches and pains, but it’s imperative to consult a professional if achiness in your spine lasts for a prolonged period of time. “Don’t just blame it on a ‘bad back,’” Dr. Charuk says. “Only a spine specialist will be able to determine if the pain is a result of a deeper issue, such as strain or an underlying disc problem. If it doesn’t get better, a spine specialist will be able to diagnose either medications or a physical therapy regimen.”