The spine has an important job. It is the protector of the spinal cord which is the central nerve highway of the body. Damage to the spinal cord can result in many devastating conditions, including paralysis and death. Keeping the spine strong and healthy is not a difficult task. Here are some tips for maintaining good spinal health that are so easy you can do them everyday.
- Exercise– Regular exercise has many benefits for the spine. Strengthen the muscles that help hold the spine erect reduces risk of injury to the spine, improves posture, and promotes blood flow to the spinal tissues.
- Diet and Body Weight– A balanced diet and healthy body weight ensures that your spinal tissues are getting the nutrients they need and not getting stressed out. Remember: your spine supports the weight of your body. The heavier you are the harder your spine and muscles must work to keep you in line. Excessive body weight can cause the spine to bow, decrease blood flow to the spinal tissues, and wear down the tissue between the vertebrae that cushions impact and supports movement.
- Diabetes– If you have been diagnosed with diabetes you are at an increased risk of many disease processes including those that affect the spine. Uncontrolled diabetes directly affects the circulatory system and constricts blood flow throughout the body. Lack of blood flow to the spinal tissue reduces the body’s ability to heal itself when an injury is sustained.
- Nicotine– This substance found in tobacco products constricts the blood vessels and decreases the body’s ability to circulate blood. The blood vessels surrounding the spine are very small and, once constricted, are unable to transport blood to the spine.
- Sleeping– A comfortable mattress has a lot to do with getting a good night’s sleep. Restful sleep allows the body to rejuvenate and heal itself, both mentally and physically. A quality mattress supports good body alignment and reduces stress on the joints while allows the individual to sleep in their preferred position of comfort. As a rule of thumb, if your mattress is greater than 10 years old it is time to trade it in for a new one.
- Body Mechanics– Lifting, bending, sitting, standing, walking, and running… All of these actions are performed countless times a day but body mechanics decides whether these actions will be hurting you when you lay down at night. Maintaining good posture when walking, sitting in a chair, standing idle, and walking or running can play a big role in reducing the stress on the spine as compared to someone who slouches and slumps in these positions. Maintaining good posture reinforces spinal alignment and blood flow throughout the body. Remember to lift with your leg, not your back, and if the task is too much for you then speak up and ask for help. Many back injuries that are non-trauma related occur because of people rushing to complete a task instead of taking their time, remembering to use proper body mechanics, and asking for help.
Hampton Roads Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine providers are experts in spine and back orthopaedics. They understand the mechanics that make up a healthy back. If you believe you need spinal or back care, contact us at (757) 873-1554 for an appointment with one of our specialists.