From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, your spine is designed to handle an incredibly varied workload. Normally, the spine is perfectly capable of silently bearing this burden, but there may be times when some things are harming your spine without your knowledge. The sooner you become aware of what you may be doing to overstress your spine, the sooner you can make appropriate adjustments to avoid serious and potentially painful problems.
From slouching on a comfy couch to excessively leaning forward or off to one side, there are many poor posture habits that can put way too much stress either directly on your spine or the muscles that support it. Do regular posture checks throughout your day and keep the following posture tips in mind:
• Sit fully back in chairs
• Use ergonomically designed workstations whenever possible
• Avoid sleeping in positions that throw off your spine’s alignment
• Keep your head positioned above your shoulders
The way you use your phone and similar devices can significantly impact your backbone. Specifically, the seven bones of your neck (cervical spine) are the most affected by the forward-leaning action common with device use. In fact, the average person spends anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 hours per day using a smartphone. Minimize device-related posture problems by:
• Keeping your device in front of you and not on your lap
• Avoiding excessive neck craning when sitting or standing
• Using a special phone or iPad stand that’s at eye level if you need to use your device for longer tasks
A lack of sufficient exercise increases the risk of sustaining a spine-related injury. Plus, you’ll be more likely to experience a back strain or similar soft tissue injuries when you do get active if you’re not in the habit of exercising on a regular basis. Fortunately, there are many forms of exercise—swimming, biking, yoga, and brisk walking are just some of the many options—that can keep your spine-supporting muscles strong and flexible. Just remember to:
• Learn proper form and technique so you don’t unintentionally do more harm than good
• Do warm-ups or stretches first to prepare your spine-supporting muscles for activity
• Mix up your exercise/workout routines so you’re targeting different direct/indirect back-supporting muscles—abs, hamstrings, glutes, obliques, extensors, and flexors are the main ones
Pushing through the pain isn’t going to do your spine any favors. Also, ignoring early warning signs that something is affecting your backbone, its discs and joints, or spinal muscles can lead to bigger problems later. If you do experience sudden discomfort, take the following steps:
• Rest for a few days or modify your activities
• Use home remedies like applying heat or ice to the affected area
• See your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon if your symptoms get worse or don’t go away after a few weeks
There’s also such a thing as too much activity for your spine. Whether you’re tackling stubborn garden weeds or stepping up a grueling workout routine, be mindful of your limits and know when to take a break or pace yourself. It’s equally important to know when to ask for help with household chores and other demanding tasks or when lifting heavy objects.
Lifestyle-related back pain and injuries can be treated in a variety of ways. At The Spine Institute, we specialize in minimally invasive fusion and non-fusion procedures, such as artificial disc replacement and alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles patients can rely on our team of spine health experts to determine the best way to prevent back pain and treat spine injuries related to everyday life. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757.