Tips for a Better Spine
The way you perform your daily activities will have a major impact on the health of your spine. Here are some rules to live by to help reduce back and neck trouble.
The key to decreasing stress on the spine is to have good health habits. Follow this easy guide to learn how simple steps can improve your spinal health.
Have good posture
Good balance is the primary objective, with the body relaxed when standing, sitting, lying or walking. When working change positions regularly. Take stretch breaks and ensure that your work area suits your needs.
Regular exercise and stretching is essential for flexibility and strength. Exercise 4 to 5 times a week for a least 30 minutes. Begin by just walking.
Use your legs to lift, keep your back straight with the weight close to your body and have your feet well apart. When carrying, keep the object close to your body. Putting an object down is the exact reverse of lifting. Keep your back straight and use your legs. Get someone else to help carry bulky or very bulky items.
Avoid lifting heavy objects higher than your waist and be careful of sudden movements. Do not twist whilst carrying heavy objects. Wear a brace, like the OMS Lumbar Support to provide extra stability and support while you work.
Work at correct heights
Learn to place things on benches and perform tasks on work areas at an appropriate height so you don’t have to repeatedly bend or stretch. Kneel down and keep your back straight if you must work on the floor.
Sit on firm chairs
Avoid soft chairs, deep couches and backless seats. Use a cushion to support the back. Try Dentons Back Support cushion.
Use a footstool
When standing (e.g. Ironing) for long periods the use of a footstool to lift one leg at a time may ease tension in the lower back.
Sit up straight when driving
When driving, support the lower back to promote its normal curve (either use a special support, or if one is built into the seat, adjust it to suit you). Ensure that your driving posture allows your shoulders to be relaxed. Don’t thrust your head forward. Have your knees slightly bent when feet are on the pedals. Avoid driving long periods without rest and stretch breaks.
When studying and reading, keeping the book tilted so that you are not constantly looking down. Otherwise, if your head is at an unnatural angle, it can place strain your neck. Use a document stand and slope board for prolonged study. This may be as simple as elevating the back legs of your study desk to an incline of about 10 degrees. Sitting in bed to read or watch TV may not be good for your lower back either.
Use a quality supportive mattress and pillow when sleeping
Contoured pillows are recommended as they conform to the natural shape of the neck. We stock a range of high-quality pillows that are designed to last. Click here for more information.
Do not sleep on your stomach. Sleep on your side or back. When arising from bed, move to the side of the bed, roll onto your side and sit up, swinging your legs off the bed as you push up with your arms.
Wear correctly fitting shoes
Make sure you have low to moderate heels with good arch support, especially if you are standing or walking for lengthy periods. Do not wear thongs.
When gardening and doing housework: ensure that you do not remain in the same position for more than 5-10 minutes. Avoid repetitive bending, lifting and twisting, keep your back straight. Use implements that suit the tasks you want to perform.
Include stretching into your daily routine
Stretching and flexibility are important factors in determining the health of your spine and body. Follow the simple stretches included in this book or ask Dr. Hooper about some stretches that are appropriate for your condition.
If you like this article be sure to visit the Spinal Centre website at www.thespinalcentre.com.au and view more content by Dr. Hooper and the Spinal Rehabilitation Team.
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