If coronavirus has you spending more time at home than you normally do, you may adopt habits that aren’t so good for your backbone and the parts that support it. Doing so can weaken muscles that support your spine, reduce circulation to spinal tissues and discs, and make you susceptible to spine-related aches and pains. If you find yourself parked in front of a laptop or PC while working from home or having more time to catch up on Netflix and watch sports reruns these days, here are five ways you can care for your spine and reduce your odds of being sidelined by disruptive pain that could require advanced medical treatment, including alternatives to spinal fusion. Los Angeles residents can keep their spines healthy by using the following guidelines
Set your phone so it reminds you to take a break to move around a few times per hour. Even just walking around the house or out in the yard can boost circulation and ease stress on your spine’s bone, joints, and supporting soft tissues.
A comfy recliner or favorite sofa spot may be a bit too cozy for your spine if it’s not providing sufficient support. If this is the case, use a pillow or two to support your back better. Also, be mindful of your posture as you sit at home by:
• Not slouching
• Avoiding excessive forward leaning
• Using a rolled-up towel or lumbar support pillow to get better support in a chair you may be using regularly if you work from home at the moment
It’s understandable to want to treat yourself to comfort food as you spend more time at home, but do so in moderation. Not watching what you eat at home could result in extra weight that puts more pressure on your spine and nearby muscles and nerves. Sugary snacks, processed foods, and excess alcohol consumption could also increase inflammation and trigger or worsen spine pain. Instead, strive to stick to healthy eating habits.
Bonus tip: Look for alternatives to unhealthy foods (e.g., frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or sweet potato wedges instead of chips).
In addition to enjoying your favorite movies and doing work, find ways to get some exercise at home. What this does is keep key spinal groups strong and flexible enough to minimize your risk of injury. Playing video games that require you to stand up and interact, setting up a spot for yoga, and working out with instructional videos are just some of the options for exercise at home.
Be proactive if you notice any new or worsening spine pain while spending more time at home. Because most common sources of sudden back and/or neck pain are related to overstretched or stressed soft tissues, conservative treatments are often helpful. Home-based options include:
• Brief periods of rest
• Activity modification
• Applying ice and/or heat at 15–20 minute intervals every few hours
• Gentle stretching
If you have new, lingering, or worsening spine pain while stuck at home, see if your Los Angeles spine surgeon offers virtual visits. Even if he or she doesn’t, calling to talk to a nurse or doctor on staff can give you a better idea of what steps you should take.
If you need expert advice on how to take care of your back at home, reach out to the spine health experts at The Spine Institute. Our physicians are industry-leading authorities on how to keep your back healthy, including safe practices to use at home. Call one of our friendly representatives at 310-828-7757 today to schedule an appointment.