5 Important habits to keep your spine strong and healthy

Back and neck pain is a very common symptom experienced by almost 80 percent of adult population at some point in their lifetime. In some, it can be severe and chronic or recurrent leading to frequent sick leaves from work and may be the reason behind change or loss of jobs.

Follow these most important tips to minimize the chances of back or neck pain becoming a significant problem in your life.

Habit no 1.

Good posture. Maintain good spinal posture during all the daily routine activities including household chores, sitting at work, bending and lifting weights, travelling etc. Adequate back support and maintaining head and neck  in alignment with the back are important points to remember and practice. Read and practice the guidelines regarding office ergonomics. Learn the right way of bending and lifting weights without hurting your back.

Make good posture a habit !. Be aware of your posture and keep correcting yourself until it becomes a habit !.


Habit No 2:

exerciseExercise. Regular exercises to strengthen the spinal muscles, abdominal muscles and improving the core muscle strength is an extremely important factor for preventing frequent spinal pain. Those with long duration sitting jobs, women after child birth, old women and men are likely to have weaker core strength that leads to more stresses on the structures in the spine and the back muscles, resulting in spinal pain.

Make exercise a habit !. Exercise regularly to improve the core strength and strengthen the muscles of the back as well as the neck and shoulders.

Habit No 3.

Sleep. adequate sleep It is during the sleep that the spine recovers from the entire days stresses. The spinal muscles are continuously working the entire day when we are in an upright posture. They need adequate duration of rest to recover overnight to be ready for the next day. The discs in the spine loose some water during the day when they are loaded. It is when we sleep and rest that the discs recover the lost water pressure in them. If the sleep duration is inadequate, over a period of time, the repetitive stresses lead to muscle fatigue and also may accelerate disc degeneration.

Sleep adequately !. At least 7 hours of sleep is necessary for the spine to stay healthy.

Habit No 4.

Diet and Sunlight. Adequate water intake is essential to prevent dehydration.  The function of the discs in the spine depends on its ability to retain enough water in its matrix. Loss of this ability is the first step towards disc degeneration and related problems.

A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is essential for muscle and bone strength. Vitamin D deficiency is very common in our population due to lack of adequate sunlight exposure and poor diet habits.

Low vitamin D is associated with increased risk of falls in the elderly, as it affects the muscle co-ordination. Loss of calcium from bones leads to osteoporosis which in turn leads fractures and also results in acceleration of disc degeneration.

Get some sunlight, eat healthy and hydrate yourself well.!

backlit clouds dawn duskwoman drinking water

Habit No 5.

Quit Smoking. The only factor that is proven to lead to early disc degeneration, apart from genetic composition, is tobacco smoking !. quit smokingThe discs in the spine do not have their own blood supply and they depend on the adjacent vertebral body for  oxygen, glucose  and other essential nutrients.

Smoking results in reduced blood supply to the vertebral bodies and this affects the permeation of nutrients into the discs, setting off an acceleration of disc degeneration and related problems.

Smokers are also at a significantly higher risk of osteoporosis.

So if you are a smoker, quit now!!.

These 5 habits can help minimize the chances of significant back or neck pain troubling you by taking care of the most common causes. There could be other causes of spinal pain and if symptoms persist or keep recurring, see your doctor for further evaluation.

About the author

Dr Phani Kiran Surapuraju is a practicing Spine Surgeon in Chennai, India. Trained in one of the top three Medical colleges (Maulana Azad Medical College) in the country. National Board of Examination certified Spine Surgeon. 12 years of Post-MS experience in Orthopaedic Surgery, with 9 years of exclusive experience in Spine Surgery. Special interest in spinal deformity correction and Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. Fellowships in Spine surgery, including management of complex spinal disorders. (FNB, Univ Of Hong Kong and Univ of Bonn, Germany. )

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