Back pain can be debilitating, interrupting your normal daily routine. We often don’t think about the strength of our spine until we have pain that disrupts life as usual. Once we have back pain, we’re driven to know what’s wrong and what it will take to relieve the pain and prevent a recurrence.
The health of your spine is crucial to the entire body; an unhealthy spine with weak muscles can cause a host of unwelcome issues like pain and disability. The spine is extremely flexible, made up of strong bones, flexible ligaments and tendons, large muscles, and highly sensitive nerves. The spine is part of the central nervous system, made up of the brain and spinal cord, which protects the network of nerves that communicate with the brain and control movement and function.
A strong, healthy spine provides:
- Protection for the spinal cord and nerves to safely relay messages to and from the brain and the rest of the body
- Flexibility, especially in the lower back and neck, allowing us to bend and twist
- Core strength provided by the bones, discs, joints, and supportive muscles and connective tissue that allow us to stand or sit up straight and walk or run with ease.
For some people, spine problems can begin in the early twenties, so thinking about how to keep your back healthy at an early age is smart. Get regular exercise and avoid prolonged periods of sitting to prevent spine-related problems that may cause pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and more serious health conditions. According to Dr. Kenneth Hansraj of New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, slouching contributes to 80%of why people have spine and back problems in their lifetime.
Here are some more tips to help you keep your spine strong and healthy:
1. Maintain Better Posture.
Remember your grandmother’s voice saying “Stop slouching, sit up straight?” Too many of us simply don’t think about our posture. Having good posture reduces stress on the spine and the supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons that protect the spinal cord. Sitting or standing straight feels good on the spine, and you can instantly feel the benefits. Good posture has many other health benefits, such as improved breathing, digestion, and energy.
2. Perform Exercises for Your Spine.
Stretching and exercising for 10-30 minutes a day is really good for your spine and your body. Doing and push-ups are really good for your cervical spine (neck). Neck stretches, bending, and range-of-motion exercises can dramatically improve the strength and flexibility of the spine.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet.
You say, what does diet have to do with the health of your spine? Well, in fact it does play a role. A healthy diet consisting mostly of lean proteins, healthy fats and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables is ideal for building up the muscles including those that support the spine.
4. Sleep on your back or side.
Sleeping wrong can definitely cause pain in your neck and back. The ideal position to sleep is on your side or back. Sleeping on your stomach puts extra stress on the lumbar spine (low back). Sleeping with too many pillows or on a super soft mattress can also lead to back and neck problems, so choose a pillow and mattress that will keep your spine relatively straight while you sleep.
Meditation can soothe the mind and reduce stress throughout the body. Meditation can restore alertness, improve your mood, increase productivity and prolong life, not to mention the positive effects it can have on your spine and posture. People who meditate tend to focus on their core strength, automatically straightening their spines in the process.
To learn more about how the spine works and how to soothe or avoid back and spine pain, talk to a spine specialist. Call Orthopaedic Associates of Central Maryland for an appointment today at (410) 644-1880.