February 21, 2017

‘Back’ To Basics: Spine Health 101

Unless you’ve suffered from pain, injury or illness affecting your back, chances are you haven’t given much thought to it. It’s only when things go wrong that we can really appreciate just how important the back is, and how good spine health is crucial to be able to move freely and live well. But don’t wait until things go wrong, there’s plenty you can do today to protect and strengthen your back and hopefully avoid issues later down the line.

 

necklace on girls backPhoto: Wikipedia

About Your Spine

The spine is made of thirty-three individual bones, which are all stacked on top of each other. This ‘spinal column’ is incredibly important since it provides the main support for your body and protects the spinal cord from injury. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to bend, twist or even stand upright. The spine has a natural S-shaped curve, which you can see from looking at it from the side. This is where the neck and low back areas each have a slight concave (inwards) curve. The thoracic and sacral regions then have a gentle convex (outwards) curve. This allows the spine, so work almost as a coiled spring. Which absorbs shock, maintains balance, and allows a range of different motions throughout the spinal column.

 

Taking Care Of Your Spine

Having strong muscles, strong bones, flexible tendons and ligaments, and sensitive nerves all contribute to a healthy spine. Staying at a healthy weight, exercising enough (and exercising correctly, so you don’t hurt your back) and eating the right foods can all contribute to a healthy spine. Keeping in good general health is good for your spine, as well as following health and safety advice. For example, bending the knees when lifting heavy objects, not twisting or jerking during exercise. Another way you can look after your spine is by sleeping on a supportive bed. Memory foam, gel, and latex mattress have been shown to offer the best in comfort and support, and reduce pressure points in the back and pelvis.

sleeping girlPhoto: Pexels

When Things Go Wrong

The spine and back area is incredibly complex. With so many nerves, disks, bones, muscles and ligaments in the area it’s no wonder that things can go wrong at times. There are lots of things that can cause back issues from a whiplash injury to genetic problems to bad posture. With so many of us working sedentary jobs sat at computers or in cars all day, posture can be a major issue. Using ergonomically designed desks and computer chairs and sitting or standing correctly can be helpful. Using a lumbar support pillow in the car or at work can help you to keep a straighter back. If you’re experiencing pain, a chiropractic doctor can make adjustments to release tension. Another common back issue is a herniated disk, this is where the fluid in the ‘disks’ bulges out and touches a nerve leading to a lot of pain. Nerve issues can also lead to sciatic pain. While the back is a tricky area, there are treatments and pain relief that can make any problems much more manageable, so speaking to your GP is essential.

Have you ever experienced any back pain or spinal problems? What was the cause, and what advice would you give to avoid others from suffering the same fate?

 

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