We do our best to stay healthy, but most of us neglect our spine’s health, even though it literally carries most of the weight. Here are some easy ways to keep your back in peak condition.
• Perfect your posture. Slouching or leaning forward when you sit can create increased pressure on the spinal discs and thus excess wear and tear over time, leading to muscle tension in your back and your neck. Be more aware of your posture and get a lumbar roll to help position your lower back in slight extension while you sit for prolonged periods.
• Think before lifting. When moving something heavy, clear a path, assess the load, bend at the knees and lift with your legs rather than your back.
• Stretch out. Sitting in one position for too long can cause muscle fatigue, strain and tension. Take breaks to move and stretch.
• Reconsider your footwear. They look pretty, but high heels can throw off your posture and spine alignment. A chunky, supportive heel that’s 2- to 2.5-inches high is optimal.
• Get moving. As adults, we’re not naturally as fit and flexible as we once were, so make time for cardiovascular exercise and strength training to support your spine—and the muscles that support it.
• Recognize the signs and symptoms of injury. They include weakness, numbness, pain and loss of function in the back, hip or the extremity.
• Be proactive. Signs and symptoms should be reported to a physician as soon as they begin, especially if they don’t resolve with time or if they begin to affect your quality of life.
If you develop signs and symptoms of back pain, talk to your physician as soon as you are aware of them. The sooner treatment begins, the better.