There’s nothing wrong with having a hobby. In fact, spending some time doing something you truly enjoy can be an excellent source of mental relaxation and an effective way to de-stress after a long day. However, some of the activities you engage in may not be good for your spine. Here are three common hobbies that may not be healthy for the spine as well as steps you can take to enjoy them in a way that won’t contribute to discomfort.
The walking involved in a typical game of golf is good for the spine, but swinging golf clubs can be bad for the back and neck. Repetitive arm and shoulder movements along with frequent twists and turns of the torso may contribute to osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis that affects the joints. In the spine, osteoarthritis can affect tiny facet joints and contribute to damage that affects spinal discs. The rotations and overextensions associated with golf can also contribute to additional discomfort due to preexisting spinal narrowing (spinal stenosis) and back spasms triggered by irritated spine-supporting muscles. Make golfing more enjoyable for your spine by:
- Maintaining a bent knee on the backswing with the opposite shoulder downward to take pressure off of your lower back
- Making squat moves on the downswing to allow other muscle groups to absorb the burden of this motion
- Relying more on your legs, shoulders, and hips to handle the movements associated with the point of impact with the ball as your body rotates toward the target
2. Playing Video Games & Watching TV
Not all hobbies that negatively impact the spine are physically demanding. More than half of all Americans say their favorite pastime is watching TV. Nearly 15 percent prefer to spend their free time watching streamed videos, and almost 10 percent opt for video game playing. The poor posture associated with such activities can stress different parts of the spine and nearby muscles, ligaments, and tendons. If you are going to enjoy sedentary hobbies, incorporate some exercise into these activities by:
- Playing some video games that require physical movements
- Watching TV while you use an elliptical trainer or stationary bike
- Treating yourself to some video streaming as a personal reward for doing 20-30 minutes of exercise
If your garden happens to include herbs, spices, and naturally grown veggies, treat yourself to some healthy dishes loaded with nutrients that are good for the spine. However, the bending and stooping often needed to plant perennials, place seeds, pull weeds, and pick up bags of fertilizer, soil, or mulch may not be good for your spine. If you tend to a flower or vegetable garden on a regular basis, minimize back pain by:
- Using long-handled garden tools to reduce bending
- Practicing proper lifting techniques when picking up or moving garden supplies
- Considering raised bed gardening so you can comfortably sit while planting and harvesting
- Taking frequent breaks and drinking plenty of water to maintain circulation around your backbone and its spongy discs
- Using a garden scooter or seat to minimize twisting, reaching, and bending
On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with any of the above hobbies, but you need to take the proper precautions while enjoying them. With less physically demanding activities like knitting and scrapbooking, your spine will thank you if you try to balance things out and get some regular exercise or stretch periodically. With physical activities like golf, biking, tennis, or bowling, be mindful of your posture, form, and technique and modify repetitive movements that place too much stress on certain parts of your spine. Lastly, talk to your doctor or a Beverly Hills spine surgeon if you experience any new or worsening back, neck, or nerve-related pain that doesn’t go away after a few days.
Get in touch with The Spine Institute to find out if you might need to undergo a fusion procedure or perhaps an alternative to spinal fusion. Beverly Hills patients trust Dr. Hyun Bae to help them find relief for their chronic spine pain. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.