Five tips for a healthy back

01 Jan 0001

Anyone who has suffered from back pain knows how debilitating it can be and how it may affect your social and professional life. You may be a young, active athlete or a middle aged office worker sitting at a desk for eight hours a day. One in five people suffer from back pain and injury during the course of their life. While some are determined enough to overcome their conditions, others may have to live with disabling pain that may limit them significantly. 

SportsHealth Physio at Victoria Gardens have put together five key ways to maintain a healthy back.

1.     Use a good mattress & pillows.

The muscles in your spine work hard to keep you standing upright and walking. When you are lying down to rest or sleep, these structures finally have a chance to relax and rejuvenate. To make the most of this, you need a mattress and pillows that allow your spine to rest in a supported and comfortable way. Different people have preferences over different mattresses and pillows based on personal preference and comfort. However the wrong mattress or pillow may have negative effects on your spine which could give rise to back pains and neck spasms. Neck pain and stiffness in the mornings is a common example of using a bad mattress or pillow.

Physiotherapists can help assess your posture and guide you in strengthening programs that could help prevent back and neck pain in the future. They can even guide you on the type of pillow you could use to help prevent spinal issues.

2. Exercise your core to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.

Your core muscles are located deep in your body and are responsible for the movements of the entire spine. They are often overlooked and over the years they may get weaker. Weak core muscles are not very effective in controlling spinal movements and this could lead to pain while active or even walking. It is recommended that along with your lower back and abdominal muscles, your deep core muscles need to be strong and supple in order to support your spine and take pressure off your lower back.

Physiotherapists are qualified to guide you on how you can keep these muscles strong and toned through specific, targeted exercises. These exercises are simple and can be performed in 20 to 30 minutes as part of a daily routine a few times a week. SportsHealth Physio can provide individualised exercise programs that meet your specific needs and can be fit into your daily schedule.

3. Footwear can help support your spine.

Whether you're walking or running for exercise, the shoes you wear play an important role in supporting your lower back. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. It is not uncommon for us to use the wrong footwear for running and walking, after which our back pays the price.

Physiotherapists can make sure that the shoes you wear are of proper fitting and the back of your heels is snug and comfortable. Your shoes should not be overly tight either as that may interfere with the natural mechanics of the foot.

4. Exercise for weight loss.

Exercise along with a healthy diet helps you lose weight or even maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or gaining weight are considered as risk factors that may put your spine under immense pressure and lead to lower back pain. Having belly fat can put added stress on the muscles ligaments and tendons of the lower back. Health care professionals such as physiotherapists can help design specific exercise programs that may help with strengthening the back and toning up.

5. Practise good ergonomics while sitting—and limit total sitting time.

Did you know that the discs in your lower spine are loaded three times more while sitting than standing, so long periods of sitting can create or aggravate a painful back condition. Moreover, when sitting at a desk and/or looking at a computer screen, our natural tendency is to slouch and lean forward, stressing our lumbar discs even more. Health care professionals recommend that you take a short walk every hour to relieve the pressure on your back. The spine is meant to move to stay healthy, and movement fuels the spine with healthy nutrients.