When considering our quality of life, we often take our backs for granted. But a healthy spine is essential to our overall health. Want to keep your spine healthy? Here’s how.
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Are your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles aligned in one straight line?
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- Keep moving!
No matter what age you are, regular physical activity is an important way to stay healthy. Try to incorporate these 3 types of exercise into your exercise routine:
- Range of motion exercises such as stretching and bending. Do these every day to keep joints flexible and to relieve stiffness.
- Strengthening exercises such as with weights or machines. Make sure to get instruction for the proper use of exercise equipment to avoid injury. Do these every day to increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect the spine.
- Aerobic exercises such as walking, biking, tennis, and swimming. Do these 2 to 3 times a week.
- Lose that weight!
The more you weigh, the greater the stress on your spine. If you are overweight, losing even 10% to 15% of your body weight can help keep your spine healthy. Losing weight will also make you feel better and more likely to maintain a healthier lifestyle. If you are severely overweight, talk to your doctor about a weight loss program that will allow you to safely lose weight.
- Sleep well.
We all know it’s important to get plenty of rest. But what we rest on is also important. A mattress that does not offer enough support for your spine can lead to muscle fatigue and a poor night’s sleep. A good mattress allows you to rest in a neutral position; muscles are relaxed and sleep is more refreshing. If you are having trouble sleeping or find that you wake in the morning more tired than when you went to bed, take a good look at where and how you sleep.
- Listen to your mother.
Our mothers have been telling us for years not to slouch, but now it’s time to really listen. Good posture keeps your body in balance and helps avoid excessive stress on your spine. Here’s what good posture looks like when standing:
- Feet slightly apart
- Knees straight
- Chin slightly tucked in
- Shoulders back and down
- Do your checks and balances.
See your doctor regularly for check-ups. If you have neck pain or back pain, be sure to get it checked out. Left untreated, some spine conditions can continue to get worse and may have serious health consequences.