Strava, a social network for active enthusiasts, collected data from 108 million entries and discovered that most resolutions fail before the end of January. If you have resolved to improve your back this year, don’t let old habits get in the way of getting you ‘back’ to health!
Along with keeping you standing tall and balanced, your spine is key to your central nervous system and vital to your overall long-term health. When your spine is healthy, the rest of your body receives all the signals it needs to function healthily as well. That’s why small improvements to your everyday habits on behalf of your spine will make a big impact on your whole body.
Here are five ways to stay on track for your back health resolutions:
Step to it
It might seem counterintuitive, but a sedentary lifestyle is harmful to your back. Studies have proven that insufficient physical activity can increase your risk for diseases like cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.
One of the best ways to start your day is with a brisk morning walk outside. Walking improves your body’s circulation, giving spinal tissues more nutrients and allowing it to flush out toxins.
Continue adding steps throughout the day. Take regular breaks from sitting at your computer during the work day. Try a quick lap through the hallways. Or take a walk to the water cooler at scheduled intervals to break up long periods of sitting.
Exercise and stretch
Regular exercise, and especially strength training, is great for the health of your spine. Your spinal cord needs strong muscles throughout your back to help stabilize it and keep the signals to the rest of your body going strong.
Start small and build achievable habits. Try adding a short cardio routine to the end of your day. Or pick up a couple of weights while watching TV.
Along with increased movement, take time to stretch your muscles. Practices like yoga, pilates or tai chi are great for increasing mobility.
Get plenty of rest
Your body repairs itself while you sleep. Without the minimum seven hours of sleep, your body cannot heal from daily strain. Studies have found that Americans who ranked their quality of life very good or excellent slept an average of 18 to 23 minutes longer than those who gave their health and quality of life a lower rating.
Consider establishing an evening routine that promotes better sleep, such as reading a book or doing yoga instead of watching TV or playing on your phone. Additionally, find a sleeping position that is the most comfortable and supportive for you, whether that’s hugging a pillow for extra support or placing a small towel under your back.
Focus on your posture
A spine needs to remain properly aligned to stay healthy. Pay attention to how you’re sitting and standing throughout the day.
For the hours you must be sitting in front of the computer, invest in a supportive chair. Elevate your computer screen to keep your spine tall and avoid hunching over as much as you can.
Manage stress levels
Emotional or mental stress can wreak physical havoc on our backs. Changes in breathing and posture caused by stress and anxiety can strain the mid-back and lower back. Take steps to manage your stress, keeping that metaphorical — and physical — weight off your spine.
Practice mindfulness and take time to be thankful through journaling or spiritual practices. Add yoga to your day to relieve stress-related tension in your back.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough to counter chronic back pain, book an appointment with us today. Our experienced physicians offer a wide range of pain management treatments to improve your spine health.