5 Tips To Keep Your Spine Healthy

March 06, 2020

A woman jogs outside as the sun sets.

A healthy spine is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, people often overlook this fact, even though research shows as many as 80 to 90 percent of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives.

Here are 5 tips for keeping your spine healthy.

Get Active to Help Your Spine

Staying active and exercising at least three times a week can help you maintain a strong and healthy spine. Your chances of experiencing low back pain significantly decrease with regular physical activity. Activities that support a healthy spine include walking, swimming, biking or going to the gym.

Avoid Lifting Mishaps

When lifting, ensure it is done the right way. Stand as close to the object as you can. Use your legs and knees rather than your back to lift. Bend your knees so that your arms are at the same height as the object. Most importantly, if the object is too heavy for you to lift alone, get assistance.

Water, Water, Water

Drink plenty of water to hydrate, which in turn helps maintain soft tissue elasticity and fluidity in joints. The intervertebral (spinal) disks can shrink when the body is not hydrated properly. Dehydration can contribute to painful disk conditions, such as a herniated or bulging disk that can further result in sciatica.

Watch Your Posture

To protect your spine, maintain good posture by standing, walking, sitting and lying in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments. Remember to always sit up straight with your head and back in good alignment. Avoid rolling your shoulders forward and slouching. Keep your feet touching the floor or supported when sitting.

Ergonomically Correct Workspace

Using proper ergonomics during work can help reduce any stress on both the lower and upper back, and can also minimize spinal pain and conditions ranging from stiff back to sciatica. Ensure that your work station fits you by adjusting the chairs and armrests to be at your ideal level for your height and functionality. Don’t stay in one position for too long. Doing so can cause your back muscles to tighten up and add strain to your spine. Move around by taking short breaks to get up and walk around the office or home.

These five tips may help you to improve the overall health of your spine. Always remember to pay attention to any warning signs of spinal problems or pain. Listen to your body. If you encounter low back pain, contact your doctor, physical therapist or other medical professional for assistance.

David McAuliffe, OTR/L, MSPT, is the site manager of Good Shepherd Physical Therapy in Hamburg, PA. He specializes in orthopedics, sports and work-related injuries.