10 Tips for a Healthy Spine

Standing

  • When standing, keep one foot slightly in front of the other, with your knees slightly bent. This position helps to take the pressure off your low back.

  • Do not stand in a bent forward position at the waist for prolonged periods of time. This causes the muscles in your low back to become compromised, which may lead to pain.

Sitting

  • Keep your knees slightly higher than your hips, with your head up and back straight.

  • Avoid rolling your shoulders forward (slouching).

  • Try to maintain the natural curve in your low back – this can be accomplished by ensuring that your chair has good lumbar support.

  • Take a break from sitting every 15-20 minutes to get up, walk around and stretch.

Lifting

  • At all times, avoid twisting while lifting. Twisting is one of the most dangerous movements for your spine, especially while lifting.

  • If the item is too heavy to lift, pushing it is easier on your back than pulling it. Whenever possible, use your legs, not your back or upper body, to push the item.

  • If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.

  • Proper lifting technique: kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor as near as possible to the item you are lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back, keeping the object close to your body at all times.

Sleeping

  • Sleeping on your back puts approximately 50 pounds of pressure on your spine. Side sleeping is the best way to maintain a neutral spine throughout the night.

  • Placing a pillow under your knees while laying on your back cuts the pressure on your spine roughly in half.

  • Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees may also reduce the pressure on your back.

  • Never sleep in a position that causes a portion of your spine to hurt. Most often, your body will tell you what position is best.

Healthy Exercise & Diet

  • Extra weight puts undue strain on your spine. Keep within 10 lbs. of your ideal weight for a healthier back.

  • “Beer belly” is likely the worst culprit, as it puts unwanted pressure on the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your low back.

  • The most efficient and effective way to reduce weight is by eating a sensible diet and exercising regularly.

  • Consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, particularly if you have a health condition.

Quit Smoking

  • Smokers are prone to more spine pain than nonsmokers, and they also heal more slowly when they have an episode of back pain.  This is because the chemicals in tobacco smoke restrict the flow of blood to the tissues in and around your spine.

Bending & Reaching

  • Stand on a stool to reach things that are above your shoulder level. Straining to reach such objects may not only hurt your mid-back and neck, but it can also bring on shoulder problems.

  • Do NOT bend over at the waist to pick up items from the floor or a table. Instead, kneel down on one knee, as close as possible to the item you are lifting, with the other foot flat on the floor and pick the item up.

  • If you need to use both legs, bend at the knees, keep the item close to your body, and lift with your legs, not your back. 

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