Your spine does a lot of favors for you, from protecting your spinal cord to allowing you to take your bike for a spin around Point Defiance. Unless you are an invertebrate, it is important to value the health of your spine, you only have one! According to the North American Spine Society, experts estimate that approximately 80% of individuals will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Read on to learn a few manageable strategies that can help you maintain or achieve good spinal health.
Why is Spine Health Important?
The spine performs a variety of essential functions that allows your body to operate properly. It is, quite literally, the backbone of your ability to walk, run, dance and bend. Here are a few examples of what your spine does:
- Gives your body support and structure
- Protects the spinal code and nerve endings
- Provides balance and enables flexible motion
The spine has a huge responsibility because it protects the co-captain of your sensory and motor function in the body, the spinal cord. Maintaining your spine health will help you continue doing the activities you love comfortably and experiencing life’s greatest joys.
Listed below are five simple strategies that may enhance your spinal health. Before adding these practices into your daily routine, check with your doctor and make sure the following suggestions are suitable for you.
- Evaluate your sitting posture. Your knees should be parallel with your hips, feet flat on the floor and your shoulders relaxed. Make sure your chair has sufficient back and arm support, and research ergonomic adjustments you can implement at your desk. Change your positioning frequently and consider investing in a standing desk to lower your risk of back pain.
- Wear supportive shoes. Comfortable shoes with proper support will help your spine stay in alignment while walking and running. Choose shoes with a low heel, get professionally fitted and make sure you replace your athletic shoes often.
- Include herbs and spices in your diet. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and willow bark are a few common spices that contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties that reduce swelling in the body. Adding spices and herbs to your diet may or may not reduce back pain, but will certainly provide your meals with a boost in flavor.
- Add core exercises to your workout routine. A strong core will take pressure off of your lower back, and play a significant role in injury prevention. Start by incorporating a short plank to your daily routine, adding seconds to your hold as you get stronger.
- Move. Movement is essential to keep your spine and body healthy. Running and walking can help increase flexibility in your lower back and strengthen muscles that support your back. Movement can also help you maintain an optimal weight, which reduces strain on your spinal column. The Tacoma are is home to many beautiful walking and running areas, such as Chambers Bay, Titlow Park and Puget Creek Natural Area. Going for a walk in nature will both uplift your spirits and benefit your spine.
When should you see a doctor?
If your back pain does not go away after four weeks, or if your pain prevents you from carrying out your daily activities, schedule an appointment with your doctor or search for a spine specialist in your area. Seek medical attention immediately if your arms/legs tingle or feel numb, you have pain radiating from your back to your legs or feet, or if you lose coordination. Here at Puget Sound Orthopaedics, we have two board-certified spine surgeons who treat a wide range of spinal conditions. If you are seeking a consultation regarding your spine, please do not hesitate to reach out at (253) 582-7257.