A healthy spine is a happy spine. The backbone itself is fairly durable yet highly complex when you consider everything that could directly or indirectly affect the spine and its supporting discs, joints, and muscles. Fortunately, adopting a preventative attitude can minimize your risk of experiencing unexpected spine-related pain. The staff at The Spine Institute in Beverly Hills wants to share a few tips on how to keep your spine happy.
Running a 5K isn’t going to do your spine any favors if you’re not conditioned to safely do that kind of activity. However, low-impact aerobic exercise is good for the average person’s spine. Walking is simple enough for most people to work into their routine. If you’re new to regular walking, start slow, stick to flat, even surfaces, and pace yourself. Never push yourself to the point where you’re out of breath or sore.
Maintain a steady stride and keep your head up, your hands relaxed at your sides, your stomach toward you, and your head up and forward. Don’t take your mobile devices with you when you walk since the position required for texting or message checking will throw off your alignment. If you walk on a treadmill, try not to rely too much on the handrails. Walking helps your spine by:
- Increasing circulation to tissues around the spine
- Maintaining flexibility and range of motion
- Strengthening core muscles that support the spine
- Stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relievers
Make Healthy Diet Choices
Everything you consume can affect the tissues and bones of your spine, not to mention the muscles that provide support. On a related note, maintaining a healthy weight is also good for your spine, another benefit of paying attention to your diet. As for food choices, avoid “convenience foods” like potato chips, processed foods, and sugary desserts and treats. In general, a healthy diet includes a mix of:
- Low-fat or nonfat dairy products
- Lean proteins like pork loins and beans
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Anti-inflammatory foods such as almonds, berries, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna
Sitting in the same position for too long can place added pressure on your lower spine, which may irritate the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back through the legs. If you have to sit while you work, consider switching to a standing desk that can be adjusted throughout your day. Further minimize possible spine issues with prolonged sitting by:
- Using ergonomically designed chairs
- Taking periodic breaks to stretch and get up and move around
- Shifting your position while sitting to prevent muscle strain
- Using a lumbar cushion when driving
These are just some of the many ways you can keep your spine healthy and happy. For instance, not getting enough recuperative sleep can make it difficult for your spine to naturally heal itself, and wearing excessively high heels or lugging around a heavy backpack can throw off your spinal alignment and put extra strain on the muscles near your back or neck. Know when to check with your doctor or a board-certified spine physician in Beverly Hills if any spine pain sticks around or becomes increasingly distracting.
If you’re experiencing severe pain in your neck or back, you may need minimally invasive spinal surgery. Beverly Hills patients can trust in Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons. Take the first steps toward living a pain-free life by calling The Spine Institute Center today at 310-828-7757 and scheduling an in-person evaluation.