By Lipla Negi: When it comes to overall well-being and fitness, the health of your spine usually gets overlooked. It doesn't cross our mind until it starts hurting in the neck or the back. Rightly called the 'backbone', a healthy spine is vital to healthy life. "In simple terms, your spine is divided into three parts - upper (head & upper neck), middle (arms and shoulders and lower (lower back and legs)," explains Dr B.K. Jha, HOD - Physiotherapy, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon.
It houses the spinal cord, which is responsible for exchange of all neuronal signals from the brain to the rest of the body. The curves in the spine help support the body weight so that you move freely and enjoy an active life. "Without a healthy spine, you may not be able to accomplish the simple, daily activities - sit, stand, bend or lie down.
So taking care of your spine today is going to help lower the chances of back or neck pain later in life. The early your start, the better it is," says Dr Suneel Kumar, senior consultant -orthopedics, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, New Delhi.
While slouching and vitamin D deficiency are the main cause of backache in most cases, sedentary lifestyle is bad for your spine health. However, you do not need to do anything rigorous to keep it strong and flexible. From sitting upright to stretching more often, a few lifestyle changes can help you improve your overall spine health and help you lead an active life.
Also read: New study: Muscle exercises can help reduce lower back pain
Posture perfect: Slouching is the most common cause of back pain across all ages. Whether working on the desktop or playing video game on the laptop, slouching puts excessive pressure on the muscles and tendons in the lower back.
Sitting straight is crucial to the health of your spine. Place a pillow against your lower back to support its natural curve. It also prevents you from hunching forward. You can use it at work or while driving. Keep your chair as close to your desk as possible.
Make sure the screen of your computer is at the eye level and the mouse & keyboard within your reach so that you do not have to lean forward or roll your shoulders while working. Avoid sitting for long hours," explains Dr Mathankumar, Mohandass, senior physiotherapist and ergonomist, Recover clinic, New Delhi.
Lift the right way: It's very easy to give in to the temptation of lifting heavy weighs to build drool-worthy muscles. But lifting too heavy objects incorrectly may increase the chances of a spine injury. "Working out to gain more muscles is one thing and overdoing it is another. Young boys often land with disc collapse because of their enthusiasm for lifting weights at the gym.
There is a limit to the pressure that your disc can absorb or spine can take," says Dr Mohandass. Be careful and consult your fitness expert before you decide to lift weights that are too heavy than what your body can take.
Also read: 6 simple ways to get fitter, healthier, happier and more energetic in 2016
Moreover, it is advisable not to lift any heavy object mindlessly - there is a technique to it. "Use your legs rather than your back or upper body to pull up the item. If it's still difficult, seek help," suggests Dr Mohandass.
While picking an object from the floor such as a pencil or pen, do not bend at waist. Instead, squat down, bend your knees and then pick it. Avoid putting sudden pressure on your spine.
Muscles need more water: Water is indeed the miracle fluid. Drinking more water helps in protecting the spine. "Our musculoskeletal system needs a lot of water to flush out the toxins. Also, the intervertebral (spinal) disc is a fluid-filled structure, which is vulnerable to break down if the fluid flow is lesser than what is needed. The discs can also get easily strained. Dehydration also cause fatigue," says Dr Mohandass, adding that one should drink at least one glass of water every hour while working.
Also read: Be your best post baby: Expert backed tips to help you become a glowing mom
Limit the use of mobile: It's almost impossible to imagine a day without them! Mobile phones have become an inseparable part of our life today. But these mobile phones may be wrecking havoc on your spine. Pinning the cellphone between your ear and shoulder or looking down on its screen while texting or playing video games for long hours can cause severe neck and back pain.
According to a recent study published in the Ergonomics journal, we bend our head at a 60 degree angle to look at a phone screen, which puts 27 kg worth of pressure on the cervical spine, the part of the spine above the shoulders. "Young professionals and kids who play on their iPad or mobile phones for a long period often get neck and upper back pain. In some cases, people also complain of dizziness and headache, which is often mistaken as an eyesight issue or migraine symptom.
But instead, it is a pseudo headache, which is actually an upper cervical syndrome. Leaning your head forward to look at your mobile or iPad screen puts a lot of stress on your upper cervical (neck), which results in headache and dizziness. With specific exercises the cervical (neck) is moved back to its neutral position to give relief from the pain and restore the natural curve of the spine," explains Dr Jha.
Yoga for flexibility: Flexible spine means healthy you! An excellent way to warm up and cool down, yoga exercises as well as relaxes your muscles. "It's for both stretching and strengthening. It helps stretch fascia - the sheet of connective tissue covering the back muscles," says Dr Jha. However, expert suggests to go for yoga when you are physically fit and not in pain.
Also read: Following these strength training exercises will help you retain your bone health
"Do not look at yoga as something that will offer an immediate relief from that backache. Consult a yoga trainer before getting started as its important to understand how much pressure a certain yoga posture would put on your spine. If not done correctly, it can also aggravate the pain," warns Dr Mohandass.
Pelvic care: Back ache is common during and after pregnancy. There is an increased pressure on the spine & pelvic muscles to support yours as well as baby's weight. It is essential to do pelvic and spine exercises post delivery to strengthen them and ease the backache. "Avoid sleeping on one side or feeding the baby from one side only. It puts excessive pressure on one side of the pelvic and can lead to pelvic dysfunction," warns Dr Jha.
Junk the sit ups: Think sit ups are the best route to flaunt six-packs abs? You may be risking your back while doing all those sit ups. Experts say it's time to swap those sit ups with the plank. Today sit ups and crunches are seen as a key cause of lower back injuries. According to a recent study by University of Waterloo, Canada, sit-ups can squeeze the discs in the spine.
The study further revealed that over time they can bulge which presses on nerves, causes pain and can lead to a hernia. A classic plank is the best way to reduce pressure from the lower back and get a stronger core.
Say yes to sunshine: A little sunshine can work wonders in relieving that backache as well as strengthening your spine. Early morning is the best time to get daily dose of vitamin D. But avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight passing through the glass window works well. Women are more prone to osteoporosis, particularly after menopause, so they need to take a good dose of calcium along with vitamin D.
Besides sunlight, room temperature also plays an important role, say experts. "Optimal room temperature is needed for proper functioning of the muscles. So avoid working in cold temperature as cold makes the muscles vulnerable to injury. The room temperature (and not the temperature of the air conditioner) should be between 27 degree Celsius - 30 degree Celsius," advises Dr Mohandass.
Following are the three spine moves, which will help you get rid of neck and back pain.
Pelvic Tilt: These two postures alleviate lower back pain, and help boost lower back flexibility.
Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Step 2: Tighten your buttocks and roll your pelvic up so as to flatten your upper back against the floor, hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat.
Bird dog stretch: A classic core exercise, it helps stabilise the lumbar spine (low back).
Step 1: Positioning the hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips, try to engage your core and abdominal muscles. Keep neck & back straight.
Step 2: Raise your right arm and left leg, until they are parallel to the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Gently lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
Cat and dog pose: While the dog tilt lengthens the spine, the cat tilt stretches the back torso and neck.
Step 1: Position your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath the hips. Make your back horizontal & flat.
Step 2: As you exhale, round your spine toward ceiling by contracting the buttocks and gently pulling your abdominal muscles backward towards the spine. Hold for 5 seconds and release.
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Jan 11, 2016
How can I make my back spine stronger? ›
- Stretch and strengthen the back. ...
- Maintain a healthy weight. ...
- Don't Smoke. ...
- Reduce or eliminate inflammatory foods. ...
- Take care with heavy lifting. ...
- Stay in motion. ...
- Stand whenever possible. ...
- Try yoga.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal technique which releases blocked energy and clears the pathways in the body when the needles are inserted along them. ...
- Massage Therapy. ...
- Chiropractic. ...
- Capsaicin Cream. ...
- Vitamin D. ...
- Anti-Inflammatory Herbs. ...
- Magnesium. ...
Foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K, iron, vitamin C and more are all great for your spine. Here's why: Calcium: This mineral helps keep your bones, including your spine, strong.Which exercise is best for spine? ›
L'Italien recommends the "big three" exercises developed by Dr. Stuart McGill, an expert in spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada. They are the curl-up, the side plank, and the bird-dog. "These exercises engage all the important muscles needed to improve spine stability," says L'Italien.What can I drink for back pain? ›
Turmeric milk might be a good home remedy for back pain. Add one teaspoon of turmeric powder to half a cup of milk (hot/cold) and mix it well. Add some honey for sweetness if needed. Drink this turmeric milk at night for possible relief from back pain.Can spine pain be cured? ›
Most back pain gets better within a month of home treatment, especially for people younger than age 60. However, for many, the pain lasts several months. Pain relievers and the use of heat might be all that's needed. Bed rest isn't recommended.Why is my spine hurting so much? ›
These strains and sprains can occur for many reasons, including improper lifting, poor posture and lack of regular exercise. Being overweight may increase the risk of back strains and sprains. Back pain may also be caused by more-serious injuries, such as a spinal fracture or ruptured disk.What tea is good for lower back pain? ›
Green tea is one of the best drinks to avoid back pain, according to Orthopaedic Surgeon, Dr Branko Prpa. It's a natural anti-inflammatory, and along with its other numerous health benefits, could prevent one of the key causes of back pain - inflammation, he said.What deficiency causes spine pain? ›
Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency can cause or worsen neck and back pain and muscle spasm.Which food is best for spine? ›
- Magnesium, which can reduce muscle tension, and is found in green leafy vegetables, fish, beans, seeds, nuts, avocados, and bananas.
- Calcium, Vitamin D and K which are helpful for bones and preventing osteoporosis.
Can you fix your spine naturally? ›
While natural techniques such as exercise, therapy, bracing, and chiropractic can be hugely successful at reducing scoliosis, they need to be integrated and applied by a scoliosis specialist to achieve their full treatment potential.What are the 3 simple exercises for back pain? ›
- Knee to Chest. Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. ...
- Bird Dog. From the all fours position, lift and extend your right arm and left leg. ...
- Glute Bridges. Lye on your back with knees bent and only heals touching the floor.
Walking increases the stability of the spine and conditions the muscles that keep the body in the upright position. Nourishes the spinal structures. Walking for exercise facilitates strong circulation, pumping nutrients into soft tissues and draining toxins. Improves flexibility and posture.Which fruit is good for back pain? ›
Apples, pineapple, berries, cherries, grapes, and citrus fruits (lemon, oranges) are composed of flavonoids and antioxidants. These plant compounds work in tandem to ease inflammations caused by knee and back pain. Consume the skin of the fruit to derive maximum benefits.Is banana good for back pain? ›
Bananas are an ideal snack for people with back pain, as they are rich in magnesium. If you have a magnesium deficiency, your body may top up on the mineral by taking some from your bones, according to chiropractor Dr Kelly Andrews.Is coffee good for back pain? ›
While all coffee-based drinks can help you to perk up and be more productive throughout the day, for those suffering with chronic back pain, coffee could just make the issue worse and even trigger neck and back pain flare-ups.What can you do instead of a chiropractor? ›
Many people with back or neck pain seek alternative and complementary treatments—such as massage, spinal manipulation, or yoga—in addition to standard medical treatments.What are 5 treatments for back pain? ›
- Epidural Injections.
- Nerve Blocks.
- Chiropractic Care.
- Massage Therapy.
- Vertebroplasty and Kyphoplasty.
Anti-inflammatory herbs including ginger (Zingiber officinale) rhizome, turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizome, devil's claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) tuber, licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) rhizome and European goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea) are useful in treating back and neck pain.How do I stop nerve pain in my spine? ›
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Interventional techniques such as nerve blocks (spinal injections)
- Epidural injections in the lumbar and cervical spine.
- Nerve killing procedures such as radiofrequency ablation.
- Engaging in exercise and physical therapy.
- Activity modification.
How do I know if my back pain is spinal? ›
- Stiffness in the low back area, restricting range of motion.
- Inability to maintain normal posture due to stiffness and/or pain.
- Muscle spasms either with activity or at rest.
- Pain that persists for a maximum of 10-14 days.
- Notable loss of motor function such as the ability to tiptoe or heel walk.
If the pain you feel extends to your arms, forearms, and hands, the source may be your cervical spine. On the other hand, if you feel the pain radiating to your legs, it may be a problem with the lumbar spine.What nuts are best for back pain? ›
Other good food choices for an anti-pain diet: avocados; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts); lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey; beans; and cocoa.Does sitting make back pain worse? ›
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can be a major cause of back pain, cause increased stress of the back, neck, arms and legs and can add a tremendous amount of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.What foods should I avoid with back pain? ›
Avoid These Foods to Reduce Pain
Processed foods, fast foods, and saturated fats. All of these fuel inflammation. This includes white bread, pasta, rice, sugary drinks and snacks, fried foods, and anything with partially hydrogenated oil.
Causes of Spinal Cord Disorder
The spinal cord may be compressed due to a bone fracture, spinal degeneration, or abnormalities, such as a hematoma, tumor or herniated disk. Damage from inside the spinal cord can be caused by a number of disorders, such as: Fluid-filled cavities. Blockage of blood supply.
Spinal muscle atrophy is a genetic disorder. Most forms of SMA are caused by mutations of the survival motor neuron 1 gene (SMN1) on the fifth chromosome, resulting in insufficient expression levels of the SMN protein.Can spinal discs be strengthened? ›
“However, in this study we have been able to show that regular physical activity, such as jogging, can actually strengthen the intervertebral discs.” Interestingly, researchers said you may not even need to run to help improve your disc health.What does a damaged spine feel like? ›
Emergency signs and symptoms of a spinal cord injury after an accident include: Extreme back pain or pressure in your neck, head or back. Weakness, incoordination or paralysis in any part of your body. Numbness, tingling or loss of sensation in your hands, fingers, feet or toes.What disease attacks the spine? ›
Ankylosing spondylitis, also known as axial spondyloarthritis, is an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the bones in the spine, called vertebrae, to fuse. This fusing makes the spine less flexible and can result in a hunched posture.
How do you activate your spinal muscles? ›
- Start standing with one foot in front of the other.
- To palpate the multifidus, place your thumb right next to the spine on the low back.
- Shift your weight forward and allow your heel to come off the ground.
- You should feel the multifidus pop into your thumb as it contracts.
“Red flags” include pain that lasts more than 6 weeks; pain in persons younger than 18 years or older than 50 years; pain that radiates below the knee; a history of major trauma; constitutional symptoms; atypical pain (eg, that which occurs at night or that is unrelenting); the presence of a severe or rapidly ...Does back pain mean weak core? ›
Back pain can be caused by many different things. If you have a weak core, that might be one of the contributors to your back pain. Your abdominals help support and stabilize your spine so if they're weakened or not as strong then it can lead to an increased risk for low back pain.What is the best sleep position for your spine? ›
The best sleep position to keep your spine neutral is on the back. When you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees and a little roll underneath the small of your neck. The pillows will help you maintain the natural curves of the spine.Can a damaged spine heal? ›
A spinal cord injury cannot be cured, but treatment can help prevent additional injuries and irreversible damage. A spinal cord injury (SCI) is damage to any part of the spinal cord – the bundle of nerves that carries signals from the brain to the rest of the body.How can I fix my spine without a chiropractor? ›
- Moving regularly is key! Don't sit for too long, even in an ergonomic office chair. ...
- Keep both of your feet flat on the floor. Consider a footrest if necessary.
- Keep your back aligned against the back of your chair. Avoid leaning forward or slouching.
- Eat fruits and vegetables, because they also contain water.
- Check your urine.
- Keep your intake to 30 to 50 ounces or 1 to 1.5 liters each day.
- Gradually drink water throughout the day.
Stretching the muscles around your spine primes them for stress and prevents them from accidentally pulling a disc out of place. Touching your toes while standing or sitting helps prime your spine, as do yoga moves such as cat/cow and child's pose. Cooling down after a workout helps your muscles let go of stress.How do you heal a disc naturally? ›
- Rest – reducing the stress placed upon the spine may help ameliorate the pain.
- Physical therapy and stretching to re-mobilise the spine.
- Some exercises may help by strengthening the core and back muscles required for spine and core stability.