6 Tips For a Healthy Back
Back pain affects 4 out of 5 Australians during some time in their life and is one of the most common reasons we seek out physical therapy. Our spine is what allows us to move around and stand upright, which means that keeping it healthy should be one of our number one priorities when it comes to caring for our bodies.
However, the constant pressure that we put on our backs can take its toll over time. This pressure can result in severe and permanent damage if not taken care of, with bad habits potentially having life-altering effects. In this article, we’ll explore everyday things you can do to keep your back healthy and strong. Here are 6 ways to avoid back pain and keep your spine performing at its peak.
- Maintain good posture
Good posture is one of the biggest components of maintaining a healthy back, helping to improve your muscle strength, flexibility and balance all while supporting a strong spine. If you have poor posture, this can increase the strain on your muscles, ligaments and joints and lead to pain in your shoulders, neck and back.
Some ways to maintain good posture include:
- Distribute weight evenly on your feet when standing
- Lifting your chest and keeping your shoulders back
- Avoid sitting cross-legged or hunched forward
- Try not to sit with your head and shoulders hunched over and with a rounded upper back
- Use proper form when lifting
If you lift regularly, whether it’s at the gym or perhaps for work, it’s important to always maintain proper form. This involves lifting using your leg muscles and bending at the knees and hips. Make sure you stand close to the object, and pivot with your feet and hips rather than twisting your back.
This will help you to avoid major injuries to your back, including damaging your disks, the surrounding nerves and your spine in general.
- Get regular exercise
Regularly working out your back will help keep it strong and fit, preventing and managing the aches and pains that impact so many of us. Exercises such as swimming, yoga, pilates and walking are effective ways to keep your back performing at its peak, improving its endurance and resistance to injury.
Keeping active will also help you to maintain a healthy weight, lowering the risk of back pain caused by the pressure that excess weight can put on your joints.
- Make sure your workstation is ergonomic
Most of us spend up to 9 hours a day sitting at our workspaces, which is a significant portion of our lives in the grand scheme of things. This is why it’s so important to invest in an ergonomic desk chair that provides the proper support needed to prevent damage to your back and limit the stress imposed on it.
On top of this, it’s also a good idea to take regular breaks and keep your body moving throughout the day and sitting with the proper posture that we discussed earlier.
- Rest after bending over a lot
If you regularly engage in activities that involve prolonged bending forward, such as gardening, cleaning or certain exercises, your spine’s stability can’t be impacted and the joints in your back can stiffen.
The greatest risk of this occurring is the greatest right after you’ve engaged in prolonged bending, so we recommended standing up for a while to allow your spinal joints and tissues to relax and recover to reduce the risk of sudden injuries caused by lifting or sudden movements.
- Sleep in a safe position
We spend about one-third of our life sleeping, so we must do so in a position that supports our back and lowers our risk of injury. Sleeping on your back is the most ideal option, as it allows for your back, neck and head to remain aligned.
However, many of us can’t fall asleep on our backs, so luckily side sleeping can still be a healthy and safe option. But if you do choose to sleep on your side, always try to keep your spine in a straight position. One position you should always avoid unless directed by your doctor is on your stomach, as this can put an intense strain on your neck.