As busy as we are, we often forget the fundamentals of taking good care of our backs.
Get back to the basics of spine health with these 6 simple tips:
Stay hydrated and practice good nutrition
Employ healthy body mechanics
Maintaining a healthy diet and staying well -hydrated will optimize blood flow and nutrition to your organs, joints, and spine. Blood transports nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, and it eliminates cellular waste. The discs in our backs are made mostly of water, so staying well hydrated will keep them healthier and more pliable. Ideally, try to drink 8 large glasses of water every day.
Seems counter-intuitive, but sitting is actually harder on your back than standing. Sitting obstructs blood flow along your spine, and it increases the stress on your spine.
If you must sit a lot, finding the right setup can help you stay comfortable. While sitting, make sure your knees are slightly higher than your hips, push your chair right up to the desk, and support your arms with armrests.
Make sure you get up and walk around often, or try periods of standing at your desk.
Read more about ergonomics in the office:
Avoid suddenly straining a muscle or worse by employing healthy body mechanics. Pushing objects is easier on your back than pulling them. Pivoting your feet to turn is safer than twisting, and always hold heavy objects close to your body when you are moving them.
Strengthen your core
Try a different back pain medication
Remember, everyone’s body chemistry and genetic makeup is different, so medications and treatments are going to affect people in different ways.
If your current medication is not working, try something else. Don’t be afraid to work with your doctor to find something that works for you.
A medication may have intolerable side effects for you but not for someone else, or may be much more or less effective. Also, some approaches to taking the back pain medication - pills, injections, patches - may work better for you than others.
Take care of your mental health
Your mental health can have an effect on your pain level and how you manage your pain. Too much stress can lead to depression, which can make pain much worse. Actively try to manage your mental health. Identify the activities that make you feel calmer and happier, and make sure to work them into your everyday routine. Techniques that work for some people include mindful meditation, prayer, exercise, therapy, and medications.
The muscles in your abdomen and back are responsible for supporting your spine. The stronger they are, the healthier your spine will be. Find some core exercises you like, and stick to them.
If needed, please discuss how to adjust your exercise program with your doctor or therapist.
For some core strengthening exercises see:
If you feel worse after exercising, there may be just one or two exercises in your routine that are aggravating your condition. Perhaps you need to do some of the exercises with a different form or more support. For more information, see:
Whatever you do, don’t stop moving. A sedentary lifestyle can aggravate your back condition.
Taking care of your back and overall health is a daily process. We hope these tips serve as reminders of the basics of back care.
Back Care -- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services