• Tips for a Healthy Spine

  • The tips listed below may help keep your spine healthy.  As with anything, common sense is a big factor in spine protection.

    Maintain a good body weight

    Additional weight places additional pressure on your back.   Keeping your weight within the guidelines specific to you will help your back.  Talk to your doctor about a weight range that is good for you.

    Develop and maintain an exercise program

    There are many different ways to exercise.   First, talk to your doctor to make sure activities you have in mind will be okay for you.   Low-impact exercises such as swimming, biking, walking, yoga, light weights, stretching are all exercises which will benefit your spine. Whatever exercise you decide, start slow and build up.  Develop a routine and stick to it.   It is important you warm up your muscles and joints prior to the start of any exercise.  Stay away from long periods of TV watching or computer work.

    Strengthen your core muscles to support your spine.

    Strong back and abdominal muscles help support your spine.  Weak muscles may lead to back pain or injury.  Work with your doctor or therapist to find stretching and strengthening exercises that will work for you.  Yoga or Pilates is a good example.

    Quit smoking

    Nicotine in cigarettes and chewing tobacco constricts blood flow to your back. This blood flow carries oxygen to the discs that cushion the vertebrae in your back.    It also reduces calcium absorption and prevents bone growth.  This may lead to the breaking down of the discs in between the vertebrae. 

    Manage Stress

    Stress creates muscle tension and spasms in your back, which can cause you pain.  It is important to remove as much stress as possible.   Relaxation techniques, massage therapy or even turning off your phone/computer for a while will help relieve stress.

    Wear comfortable shoes

    Shoes should provide a good arch support, be flexible, and should have a round or square toe so that toes are not pinched and can move around.  Good shoes will provide support to the alignment of the spine and body.  For those of you who like to wear heels, it is suggested you wear a very low heel.  Experts say a three-inch heel stresses your foot seven times more than a one-inch heel. In addition, heels put extra stress on your knees.

    Maintain posture

    Good posture helps protect your muscles from stress of overwork and your joints from injury.  Sitting creates much more pressure on your spine than standing or walking.  If you work in an office it is important to have the correct chair to prevent slouching.  It is recommended you get up from a sitting position every 20-30 minutes to walk and stretch. 

    Body mechanics

    Use proper body mechanics when lifting a load.  Do not bend over to lift any objects.   Squat down, keeping your back straight and head up, and lift with your legs, not your back.   Keep the object close to your body.   Size up the load and get a partner if the load is too big.   Always push rather than pull an object.

    Eat healthy

    You can keep your bones healthy and strong by eating foods high in calcium and vitamin D.  Talk to your doctor about any supplements he may prescribe for you.

    Ask Our Librarian

    For further information on this topic or other medical topics contact Tina Slanc, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Medical Librarian, at: (719)-776-5288 or kristinaslanc@centura.org.

    References:

    https://www.spine.org/Documents/PressReleases/2012/9back_to_basics_tips.pdf

    http://www.spine-health.com/blog/five-ways-keep-your-spine-healthy-and-happy

    http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/calcium-vitamin-d-foods

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/your-omega-3-family-shopping-list

Specialties