It’s easy to take your spine for granted when it’s not causing you any significant pain, but it’s still a structure that needs some attention to keep everything functioning properly. If you’re already making an effort to get the type of exercise that works your core spine-supporting muscle groups, you’re on the right track. However, there are other things you can do on a daily basis to boost your spine’s health and reduce your risk of being distracted by recurring or chronic discomfort.
1. Make Time to Move
Hours of non-movement, whether it’s sitting at work all day or relaxing on the couch watching a good TV show or movie, isn’t good for your spine and its supporting parts. Make an effort to get up and stretch periodically to get the blood flowing around your backbone. Even going for short walks each day can enhance your spine’s health.
2. Get Sufficient Seatback Support
Fifty percent of drivers questioned in the United States and Sweden reported lower back pain. A study of more than a thousand salespeople found that those who routinely drive long distances have more back and neck pain. Such stats show the importance of getting sufficient seatback support. A lumbar support cushion or even a rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can help you retain your spine’s alignment as you sit. Further support your spine when sitting by:
• Positioning your chair so it’s supporting your back and neck
• Adjusting your chair so your feet are touching the floor and your knees aren’t coming up too high
• Using an ergonomically designed chair to retain your spine’s natural alignment
3. Watch Your Posture
It’s not going to matter how supportive your seatback is if you’re not paying attention to your posture at the same time. Get into the habit of periodically checking your posture so you can correct yourself if you’re slouching or leaning excessively.
When sitting, your head should be above your shoulders, and your neck shouldn’t be excessively craning forward, leaning backward, or tilting too far to one side or the other. Also, pay attention to your posture when standing, sleeping, exercising, working out, and playing sports.
4. Break Your Bad Habits
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are two habits you should kick if you want to boost your spine’s health. Both habits have been linked to degenerative disc disease (age-related wear affecting spinal discs) and an increased risk of developing herniated discs.
Research suggests certain chemicals in cigarette smoke can also slow down the healing process, impede circulation, and present risks if you end up needing spine surgery. Your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon can make some recommendations if you need some help quitting smoking or cutting back on your alcohol consumption.
5. Be Mindful of Your Screen Time/Device Use
In recent years, there has been an uptick in younger people experiencing spine-related pain, especially in the neck and upper back areas. Part of the reason for this is an increased use of smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices and the habit of craning the neck forward or down to type, text, search, play a game, or browse. Spending too much time in the same position when watching TV isn’t good for your spine either, especially when you’re in the mood for some binge watching. Remedy these problems by:
• Keeping your phone in front of you instead of on your lap or down by your waistline when using it
• Using laptop or tablet stands if you’ll be using such devices for a while
• Doing some type of physical activity when watching TV (e.g., using a stationary bike as you watch)
• Taking a break from screens and devices now and then to do other activities that are much better for your spine’s health, such as yoga, walking, swimming, or cycling
Paying attention to your spinal health every day can prevent pain and injury in the long run. Using proper techniques during your daily activities, whether it’s watching TV, working at your computer, or using your smartphone, is the best way to ensure long-term spinal health. The spine health experts at The Spine Institute can provide information about everything from how to protect your back from injuries to alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles residents should call one of our friendly, experienced representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.