6 Tips to Maintain a Healthy Back
Building a healthy back can take a bit of habit-tweaking. It can be so easy to slip into poor posture when working at a desk from 9-5 or to opt for couch time instead of a brisk walk, but even with a few simple daily changes, improving your quality of life is not beyond reach. If you aren’t yet experiencing symptoms, preventing pain is always easier than reversing it!
Though you should check in with your chiropractor before making lifestyle changes, here are some general tips. Combine these practices with hands-on and internal work, stress control, and sufficient sleep to maintain back health.
1. Take short breaks at work
So many Seattleites work office jobs that require sitting at a desk for extended periods. If this sounds like you, your back health could suffer without proper daily maintenance. Sitting stationary for more than an hour at a time places great pressure on the back muscles and discs, which can lead to short- or long-term back pain and may give way to chronic health and posture issues in the future.
But fear not: you don’t need to quit your job to save your health, and you don’t even have to invest in a standing desk (though they’re never a bad idea!). Start by standing up and stretching or walking a lap to the water cooler for a couple minutes every half-hour or so. Keep an eye on the clock or set up an ongoing personal notification. In addition to protecting your back muscles, this habit has a major added bonus — it increases your time management awareness and helps keep you accountable for your productivity!
While you are seated, a properly adjusted ergonomic chair can be your back’s best friend. Reinforce it with a small cushion for extra lower back support. By incorporating each of these tips into your workday, you can optimize your posture — even at the office!
2. Half an hour is all it takes
At minimum, the average adult should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week. This means half an hour of movement 5 days a week is all it takes to do most bodies good. Combine a regular walking, jogging, or fitness training routine with your brief workday breaks to promote optimal blood flow and keep those muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments in top shape. A healthy back is like a well-oiled machine, and your daily 30 is essential to help grease the wheels!
3. Resist the slouch!
Once you’ve developed a long-term slouching habit, correcting it can feel unnatural at first. However, training yourself to become conscious of your posture is a critical part of maintaining not only healthy spinal alignment, but also whole-body health. Good posture earlier in life is also a key weapon against the dreaded hunchback that can accompany aging.
To avoid slumping when sitting, start by sitting with your legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor. Pay attention to upper body tension and make every effort to keep your shoulders in a relaxed position. When walking, take care to stand straight and tall and shift most of your weight on the balls of your feet. Finally, when lying down, find a healthy sleeping position and use the right mattress and pillow. Snoozing on your side or back generally supports proper posture more than lying on your stomach.
4. Lift with care
Bending over to pick up a small child? Twisting to and fro while doing the laundry? Lifting a heavy box or piece of furniture? You’ve likely already heard the advice to “lift with your legs,” and if you haven’t, it’s time to start following this general rule of thumb. Remember: it’s important to check the weight of most items before lifting them. A small load may be mightier than it looks, so test it by gently pushing the box beforehand. Once you’re ready to lift, follow these tips to avoid a back injury.
5. Practice makes perfect
With the right support, old habits don’t have to die hard! Whether you’re already a Fremont Spine & Wellness patient or are simply interested in chiropractic health, join us at our clinic for a free, half-hour Healthy Back and Posture Workshop every other Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. Let’s work together to accomplish all of the above tips, from improved posture to healthy office, home, and exercise practices.
6. Alignment is key
Manual therapies such as chiropractic adjustments are a vital line of defense against lower back and neck pain. Regular chiropractic visits, which may include anything from spinal alignments to rehabilitative care and education about at-home exercises, can do wonders to simultaneously treat existing symptoms and prevent future issues. The importance of proper alignment cannot be understated, as a well-tuned spine takes stress off the surrounding nerves and organs and reinforces good posture. Contact us today to request an appointment and set yourself on the right track to a healthy back!