A healthy spine is the backbone of a strong body (no pun intended)!
Here are seven spine healthy tips to help you avoid back injury or reduce aggravation to an already compromised or achy back.
- Lift properly – When lifting something heavy, stand as close as possible to the object you’re lifting. Don’t hinge forward and lift from the waist. Instead, engage your core muscles while bending at the knees. Keep your back straight and, while maintaining a strong core, use your legs to lift the object. If the object is too heavy…. get help. One more thing: avoid twisting as you lift – the “pick-up-and-turn” action can damage even the healthiest backs
- Sit properly – Your spine doesn’t like it when you sit awkwardly in a chair, especially when it’s for extended periods of time. You’ll make your spine happier if you adjust the height of your chair so that, when sitting, your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are higher than your hips. And if possible, don’t sit! Too much sitting has been found to be detrimental to your overall health and fitness.
- Avoid crossing your legs – when you do it puts additional pressure on your lower back (and that can also lead to spider veins). Another thing, while sitting in a chair, lift your torso up tall to keep your spine in a neutral position. And, finally, “sit on top of the sitting bones” – that means don’t let the tailbone tuck under and allow for a deep C-curve in your lower back. It also means you should avoid hunching forward; instead, draw your shoulders back and down to keep the spine lifted and upright.
- Abs, abs, abs – Be sure to regularly exercise those important core muscles – your abdominals (abs) – to keep them strong. Make sure you exercise them so they are evenly strong on all sides of the body. Strong abdominals will enhance your performance in all fitness activities, as well as managing everyday tasks.
- Lose the junk in the trunk – Excess weight puts extra pressure on the spine. Exercise regularly, and find ways to fit fitness into your daily routine. Cut down on calories and lose weight by eating more fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, whole foods, and lean proteins. Avoid processed foods and foods with artificial ingredients.
- Sleep properly – Sleeping on your back or your stomach adds a lot of extra strain on your spine. Indeed, it’s estimated that lying on the back puts an additional 50 pounds of pressure to a spinal column. It’s better to sleep on your side. And if you put a pillow between your knees while lying on your side, you can even further reduce the pressure on your back. However, if you must sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees – it will help minimize low back strain.
- Kickthe nicotine habit – – We all know that smoking is bad for your health. So is vaping. Smokers tend to have more back pain than non-smokers, perhaps because nicotine reduces blood flow. When you have less blood flow to the disks that cushion your spine, the disks don’t cushion as well. Ouch! In addition, smoking cuts down on your vascular capacity to engage in and keep up with the cardio activities that you enjoy such as ice skating, sledding, swimming, bicycling and BeyondBarre fitness classes!
Follow these common sense spine health tips to help protect your back from injury and to keep your back strong for engaging in all of the activities you love to do without pain!
Yours In Fitness,
Colleen Ketchum, Founder of the BeyondBarre Method and
Owner of Pilates In Motion Fitness Studio, located in Warwick, NY