Your spine has many nerves, muscles and ligaments that serve as connections to areas throughout your body, so keeping your back in top condition is one of the best things you can do for both your back and your overall health. There are a number of simple things you can try to help keep your spine as healthy as possible and minimize complications from your back condition and/or prevent future painful episodes.
Let your spine really rest while sleeping
While you’re sleeping, all of the structures in your spine that have worked hard all day finally have an opportunity to relax and be rejuvenated. Using the right mattress and pillow will support the spine so the muscles and ligaments can be stress-free and have a chance to become refreshed. A large part of the decision of what type of mattress and pillow to use is based on personal preference. As long as the basis for the choice includes ensuring that the correct support and sleeping position will be attained, any of the many available types of mattress can be helpful. See also Mattress Guidelines for Sleep Comfort and Choosing the Best Mattress for Low Back Pain.
Choose your shoes carefully
Whether you’re walking for exercise, or just to get where you’re going, the shoes you wear have a big effect on your back. They should be well balanced, flexible and most certainly comfortable. Good shoes provide not only protection for your feet, but also a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain in alignment. Selection of the right shoes, and correctly using inserts if needed to provide even further balance, can help you avoid muscle strain and possible injury. See also Guidelines for Buying Walking Shoes.
Enjoy the benefits of a massage chair
Many people love a good massage to relax their muscles and relieve stress. Therapeutic massages not only improve flexibility and decrease tension; they can also improve blood flow and increase the level of endorphins in your bloodstream, which is a chemical in the body that makes us feel good. While it’s not the same as going to a massage therapist, having a massage chair in your home can be a practical and easy way to get some of the benefits of a Shiatsu or Swedish massage. See also Massage Chairs for Pain Relief.
Sit up straight – with support
The discs in your lower spine are loaded three times more while sitting than standing, so long periods of sitting can often create or aggravate a painful back condition. Moreover, when sitting in an office chair, many people slouch and lean forward, and this poor posture usually leads to muscle tension and pain in the lower back and legs (e.g. sciatica). The right office chair plays an important role in promoting good posture and supporting the natural curves of your back. In addition to a comfortable chair, most experts recommend getting up to stretch and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes, as prolonged static posture is stressful for the structures in your spine. See also Choosing the Right Ergonomic Office Chair.
Specifically exercise your abs and back
One of the most important components of good spine health is exercise. Specifically, performing abdominal and back exercises (which don’t get much exercise from daily activities) will go far in helping to keep your spine healthy. These exercises are simple and can be performed in 20 to 30 minutes as part of a daily routine. If back and abdominal muscles are not in good shape, additional pressure can be put on the spine, which is already under the stress of supporting your entire body. When these muscles are well maintained they help support the spine and minimize the chance of injury. See also Types of Abdominal and Back Exercise.
The topics discussed here are simple ways to help your spine and back stay in alignment and maintain a stronger, healthier you. Even if you are in very bad pain and are undergoing extensive medical treatments, we encourage you to still try to remember the simple things you can do for your back to help it heal and get stronger and healthier over time.