6 Ways for Cooks to Prevent Spinal Pain

What you eat in terms of the fruits and veggies you consume and how much water you drink on a daily basis is important to the overall health of your spine and its supporting structures. If you happen to be a cook who spends several hours each day in the kitchen, Los Angeles spine surgery experts suggest a few things you can do to prevent spine pain as you reach for pots, pans, and utensils while chopping, stirring, and sautéing.

1. Wear High-Quality Shoes

The pressure you put on your feet could have an indirect impact on your spine, especially your lower back and the muscles around it. If you’re on your feet cooking for hours at a time, minimize spine stress as much as possible by investing in shoes that provide sufficient support and comfort. Consider shoes that:

  • Fit the natural contour of your feet so circulation is maintained
  • Maintain your natural arch to prevent issues with alignment
  • Have an appropriate amount of cushioning to reduce stress and shock

2. Be Mindful of Your Posture

It can be easy to forget about posture when you’re hunched over a table slicing, dicing, or kneading. However, posture can have a direct effect on the soft tissues around your spine along with your backbone’s joints and discs. Try to avoid unnatural standing positions. If you need to bend to do certain tasks, consider sitting on a stool so you won’t have to lean forward excessively. When it comes time to do kitchen cleanup, keep your shoulders and head over your hips as you wipe counters and do the dishes.

3. Organize Shelves for Convenience

If you have the opportunity to arrange things in the kitchen you’re working in, organize your shelves for maximum convenience. Doing so can prevent excessive strain on spine-supporting structures and pain from muscle strain. Consider these spine-pleasing storage arrangements:

  • Put what you use most often within easy reach
  • Keep heavier items like mixers on bottom shelves to reduce the risk of stretching or pulling a muscle
  • Place frequently used utensils and spices near the stove so you won’t have to constantly twist and turn to get them

4. Get Some Help and Give Yourself Breaks

Whether you’re a professional chef or you’re going to be in the kitchen all day getting a big holiday meal ready, know when to ask for assistance from coworkers or family members. Sharing tasks can ease physical and mental stress that affects the spine. Also, give yourself occasional breaks so you can relax or walk around and stretch. Whenever possible, mix up your kitchen duties with things you can do while sitting.

5. Get Regular Exercise When Not in the Kitchen

Make exercise a regular part of your routine when you’re not in the kitchen. The great thing about exercise is that you’re not relegated to a gym. You can keep your spine and everything that supports it directly or indirectly healthy with activities such as swimming and other water-based exercises, yoga, and daily walking. Your spine is likely to benefit from doing:

  • Core-strengthening exercises
  • Gentle back and neck stretches
  • Regular aerobic activities to maintain circulation

6. Check in with Your Doctor

If you reach a point where spine-related pain is a regular part of your time spent in the kitchen, talk with your doctor. Even if the source of your discomfort is something minor, it never hurts to find out what’s going on with your spine. Your doctor may also be able to offer more advice on what you can do to prevent spine pain while cooking.

You may also want to consider meeting with a professional spinal surgeon. At The Spine Institute Center, we specialize in a wide variety of fusion and non-fusion procedures, from artificial disc replacement to ALIF surgery. Los Angeles patients can rely on Dr. Hyun Bae and his team of expert surgeons to help them find effective relief. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.