Monday, December 11, 2023

Easy ways to avoid back pain

The spine is one of the most important parts of your body. It holds you up, keeps your internal organs together and is a bridge between the brain and bones, muscles and nerves.

If you’ve ever been out of commission because of a backache, know that you’re not the only one. Back pain is one of the most common complaints doctors encounter.

Back pain comes in various forms- dull, continuous pain or sharp pain. It can be because of a fracture, fall or injury.

Back pain can even stem from a preexisting condition like arthritis or spinal stenosis.

Back pain also triggers from poor lifestyle choices like overweight, exercising with improper form or a sedentary lifestyle.

It’s important to take care of your spine which most people tend to take for granted.

I have some good news for you — it’s easy to prevent back pain by inculcating these few tips into your daily life.

Focus on good posture —

I can still hear my grandmother nagging me to straighten up every time I hunch, even slightly, today I thank her for it. Good posture can help prevent back pain. It’s important to pay attention to your posture.

How do you check your posture?

Stand with your heels against a wall. Your calves, butt, shoulders and the back of your head should touch the wall or sit up straight with your back against the back of your chair and your feet flat on the floor. Try not to slouch when standing and sitting. If all these parts of your body are aligned, you have good posture.

A “Text back” is a new cause of back pain. Having you head at a 30-60 degree angle for a large chunk of the day is sure to have an effect on your spine. The weight of your head on your neck increases the more it’s bent, straining your spine. Constantly being on your phone or computer for long periods of time can cause long term damage to your back and spine.

TIP- Consciously walk for a minute for every half hour you spend at your desk.

Don’t smoke —

Smoking is horrible for your spine. Many of you are unaware of the fact that smoking is harmful to your spine and spinal health. When you smoke, your bone density decreases which  increases your risk of developing osteoporosis. Smoking also compromises blood flow and oxygen to your spine. When your cardiovascular system is impaired (due to smoking) it can have serious spinal consequences. What is the solution to all of this? Stop smoking!

 Exercise regularly —

Staying active keeps your back muscles strong. You don’t need to be lifting 100 kilo weights in the gym to stay active. Only 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity physical activity will keep your back in good shape. Regular physical activity can help reduce inflammation, keep your joints fluid and ease muscle tension in your back. Your muscles are meant to be moved and used. Exercising regularly helps ease back pain by keeping you in shape and your weight under control.

Exercise correctly —

While exercising, its important to make sure your form is correct. If your form is off, no amount of exercise is going to benefit you. In fact, it may do more harm than good. While exercising make sure your posture is right, you know how to use gym equipment properly and if you aren’t a regular gym goer, make sure you are supervised by a trained person.

Strengthen your back —

Exercising and stretching can make your back stronger and lower your risk of back pain.

Muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises, yoga and pilates can stretch, strengthen and keep your muscles fit along with improving your posture.

Eat right —

If you have good eating habits, give your body the nutrition it needs you body will reward you by keeping aches and pains at bay. A nutritious diet of fresh fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats and whole grains will keep your body in shape (inside and out).

Watch your weight —

Maintaining your weight significantly lowers your risk of back pain. The extra kilos, especially around your midriff, puts strain on your lower back and spine. If you’re overweight, it is a must to lose weight (in a healthy way) to control any back pain.

Sleep well —

If you’re prone to back pain, sleeping in the correct position is a game changer. Consult a sleep therapist or doctor to figure out what sleeping position is best for you. The kind of mattress you sleep on can affect your back health as well. A medium-firm mattress is supposed to be the best for your back.

Apart from your sleeping position and bedding, getting adequate and good quality sleep is important for your back and spinal health as well.

Travel carefully —

Be vigilant of your back and spine while travelling. Sitting in one spot for too long can tighten your back muscles. Always stretch your legs and walk around for sometime if it’s possible. Be careful while lifting heavy suitcases and avoid sleeping in awkward positions. These jerky and problematic movements can aggravate or cause back pain.

 Calcium and Vitamin D —

Calcium and vitamin D are incredibly important for bone health. Calcium and vitamin D deficiency can make your bones soft and brittle. If you follow a dairy free diet, make sure you eat other calcium rich foods like seeds, lentils, leafy green vegetables  and fish like sardines or salmon. Milk, yogurt and other dairy products are rich sources of calcium as well. Vitamin D is found in abundance in fatty fish, egg yolks, beef liver and cheese. If you arent able to get enough calcium or vitamin D from your diet, try compensating for it with supplements. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Sit with correct posture and don’t sit too much —

Sit properly with good posture and make sure you do not sit in the same position for too long. Opt for chairs that offer a straight back or low-back support. Your body isnt designed for a desk bound lifestyle. Make sure you move around and change your position every now and then to ease the tension in your back.

Stay hydrated —

Staying hydrated is good for you for multiple reasons. Dehydration can negatively affect your spine health. The discs between your vertebrae need proper hydration to support the weight of your spinal column and body. If you don’t hydrate enough it can cause wear and tear of the discs and lead to spinal issues. Hydration is extremely important all your life and more so as you get older.

Personal advice — You can reduce developing back pain by making these simple changes to your daily life.

Catch back pain in its early stage and rectify it.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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