The spine is one of the most important parts of our bodies and also one of the least appreciated. Your spine supports you as you walk, sit, lift things and almost every other activity you may engage in over the course of your life. Enjoying a healthy life is only possible when you keep your spine in good shape. As one of the many millions of people worldwide who suffers from back pain, I’ve learned some ways to keep the pain under control and avoid it entirely in many cases.
When you have back pain, even the most commonplace tasks can become difficult and painful. Something as simple as tying your shoes can become a challenge. However, you don’t have to let back pain hold you back. In order to keep back pain under control, the most important thing is to be able to prevent it ‘ and this all starts with an understanding of how our spines work.
Our spines are made up of a series of small bones called the vertebrae which are lined up in a row. There are three natural curves in the spine: there is the lumbar curve in the lower back, the thoracic curve in the middle of the back and the cervical curve which appears in the neck.
Between each vertebra are fluid filled discs to cushion the vertebra so they don’t rub together; very painful! Attached to the vertebra are a myriad of muscles.
When we move, it is through the spine and the muscles working together in concert. To keep your spine healthy and prevent back pain, good posture is important when you’re standing or sitting. When you sit, your shoulders should be aligned with your hips, your knees at a 90 degree angle and your feet placed flat on the floor. When you’re standing, your feet should be placed no farther apart than the width of your shoulders.
When you have good posture, you keep those three curves in your spine in the right alignment. This protects the health of your spine and your back muscles, preventing most back pain. However, if you already happen to suffer from back pain, what can you do to help reduce this pain?
Simple exercises are the ticket. These can help relieve pain that is already present as well as help avoid it altogether. Before any activity is undertaken, do some stretching and bending. This helps loosen the muscles and gets them ready for the coming activity. A basic warm up, like an athlete before an event.
If you are already in pain, there are exercises you can do, like that above, but they need to be done carefully and not overdone. Leg lifts are great for this and so are side bends and forward/backward bends. Remember, though, that if it hurts, STOP IMMEDIATELY!
With good posture and making a habit of warming up before physical activity, you’ll be able to prevent back pain in most cases. Many of those who suffer from back pain find that good posture is able to alleviate their back pain and allow them to resume their normal activities in short order.
If you’re good to your spine, then it will do the same for you, providing you with a lifetime of pain free, flexible mobility.
Finally, whenever you’re lifting, make sure to do so with your legs instead of your back. Many serious back injuries are caused by improper lifting techniques. When you’re lifting, bend at the knee, grasp the object you want to lift and stand – this lets your legs do the lifting and protects your spine.