The three weakest links in the body are the neck, knees and back. If any of these three parts are out of commission, you know it. Your whole day is affected. With winter on its way and snow shoveling just around the corner, you must be extra careful with your back.
Just about everything you do affects your back. Most people will have back pain at some point in their life. Back pain can be caused by being overweight, performing repetitive movements, sitting, standing, stress and improper lifting procedures. The back is very complicated and taking care of it now can go a long way toward preventing many forms of back problems in the future.
Here are some tips for keeping your back healthy and strong:
1. Practice good posture. Slouching puts undue stress on your back.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight puts stress on the back.
3. Eat well. We need calcium and vitamin D among other nutrients to keep bones in good shape.
4. Quit smoking. Studies suggest that smokers are more likely to experience disc problems.
5. Strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. By keeping your abdominal muscles strong and maintaining good posture, you will be creating a natural “girdle” around your body to give your back good support.
6. Keep the spine flexible with yoga and gentle exercises. It’s been said that a flexible spine is the secret to a youthful body.
7. Exercise regularly to keep your body fit and strong. Many back injuries happen when people who are not active play a vigorous game of football or softball on the weekend. Condition your body with regular exercises so you can play sports without pain.
8. Reduce stress. Tense people often have tense backs. Get enough sleep, exercise, be positive and practice deep breathing regularly.
9. Be comfortable. Avoid restrictive clothing and high heeled shoes which can put stress on your back.
10. If you stand for long periods of time, raise one foot on a box to lessen the strain on your back. Check your posture and try to maintain the natural curve in your spine. Take frequent breaks if possible.
11. If you must sit for long periods of time, get up every 30 minutes, walk around and do a few stretches.
12. If you work at a computer, adjust your chair so your elbows to wrists are parallel to the floor and the screen is at eye level.
13. Use your legs when lifting. Bend at the knees and straighten your legs as you lift the object. This puts less strain on your back.
We often don’t appreciate a healthy back until we’re laid up with a bad one. Take a proactive approach to a strong, healthy and pain-free back.