You can potentially hurt your back doing various everyday activities like lifting a box, bending to garden, exercising, and even getting out of bed. However, by being proactive and intentional, you can keep your back healthy and strong for years to come.
For many people, it comes down to overall analysis and good life choices. There is not a one-size-fits-all answer for everyone, but there are definitely questions to ask yourself as well as steps to take to make things better. Most of all, it is important to work with a physician during the journey to make sure activities are appropriate for current age and level of health. A strategic plan is the first step toward an effective course of action.
- Stay at a healthy weight to avoid strain on your back.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis, which weakens the spine. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs and medicines.
- Sleep in a position that maintains your back's normal curves and on a mattress that feels comfortable. Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees, or sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. This reduces strain on your back.
- When getting out of bed, lie on your side and bend both knees. Drop your feet over the edge of the bed as you push up with both arms and then stand up.
- If you must stand for a long time, put one foot on a stool, ledge, or box.
Establish Exercise Routine
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Walking is a great choice. You also can try running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis, or other team sports.
Stretch Your Body
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Gently pull one bent knee to your chest. Put that foot back on the floor, and then repeat with the opposite knee. Hold for 15-30 seconds. Repeat 2-4 times.
- Do pelvic tilts. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your stomach. Pull your navel in and up toward your ribs. You should feel like your back is pressing to the floor and your hips are slightly lifting off the floor. Hold for 6 seconds while breathing smoothly.
Strengthen Core Muscles (Back-Abdomen-Buttocks)
- Pull in your abdomen (imagine pulling your navel toward your spine). Hold this for 6 seconds, then relax. Breath normally as you tense your muscles.
- Do curl-ups. Do them with your knees bent. Keep your low back on the floor and curl your shoulders toward your knees using a smooth, slow motion. Put your hands behind your neck (not head) with your elbows spread apart.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdomen muscles, and then raise your buttocks up a few inches. Hold this position 5-10 seconds as you continue to breathe normally, then lower yourself to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Try Pilates or yoga. These classes have poses that strengthen the core muscles.
- Place a small pillow or a rolled-up towel in the curve of your back if you need extra support.
- Sit in a chair that lets you place both feet flat on the floor with knees level with your hips.
- When driving, keep your knees level with your hips. Sit straight, and drive with both hands on the steering wheel and arms slightly bent.
- Try a kneeling chair, which helps tilt your hips forward. This takes pressure off your lower back.
- Try sitting on an exercise ball. It can rock from side to side, keeping your back loose.
- Squat down, bending at the hips and knees only. If you need to, put one knee to the floor and your other knee in front of you, bent at an angle (Lunge position).
- Press your chest straight forward. This helps keep your upper back straight while keeping a slight arch in your low back.
- Hold the load as close to your body as possible.
- Use your feet to change direction, taking small steps.
- Lead with your hips as you change direction. Keep your shoulders in line with your hips as you move. Do not twist your body.
Remember, it is critical to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise program. Never hesitate to ask for help if you want to learn more about keeping your back healthy. McBride’s team of specialists are always ready to work with you. Reach out today and make an appointment via phone or online. We’ve got your back!