Keeping your back healthy should be a top priority for everyone. Using correct posture, lifting things properly and avoiding any kind of movements that strain your back can help prevent pain.
If you’ve been inactive, start with low-impact exercises. Walking, swimming and riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes every day can build up your muscle strength and flexibility. Try a yoga class to stretch, strengthen muscles and improve your posture.
Always ask your health provider first for advice on how to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles. The National Institutes for Health offers the following tips to help keep your back healthy:
- Always stretch before exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
- Remember not to slouch when standing or sitting. The lower back can support a person’s weight most easily when the curvature is reduced. When standing, keep your weight balanced on your feet.
- At home or work, make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height.
- Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of the back can provide some lumbar support. During prolonged periods of sitting, elevate feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
- Sleep on your side with the knees drawn up in a fetal position to help open the joints in the spine and relieve pressure by reducing the curvature of the spine. Always sleep on a firm surface.
- Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy. Lift from the knees, pull the stomach muscles in, and keep the head down and in line with a straight back. When lifting, keep objects close to the body. Do not twist when lifting.
- Maintain proper nutrition and diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight gain, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles. A diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps to promote new bone growth.
- Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can contribute to spinal disc degeneration. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis and impedes healing. Coughing due to heavy smoking also may cause back pain.
+ Learn about The Spine Center of Hampton Roads which helps patients of all ages with back and neck pain. Our specialists use X-ray, MRI, CT, bone scan and other advanced diagnostic tools to evaluate each patient’s individual needs. Physical therapy is available at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy locations throughout Hampton Roads.
Source: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke