The intricate crafting of the human spine can put the most complex engineering to shame. Supported by 33 vertebral bones and a sophisticated system of shock absorption, the spine is one of the most sensitive, and yet one of the most neglected parts of your body. Keeping your spine healthy is no easy task—the spinal column, vertebrae, muscles and spinal discs are each subjected to the immense stresses of maintaining posture and bearing loads of everyday life. Poor office ergonomics can cause your spine to work overtime, resulting in backaches and long-term injuries. Keeping your spine healthy is more often than not, a matter of making simple lifestyle changes.
Posture – Correcting posture is one of the quickest ways to maintain a healthy spine. Simple changes in the way you sit, stand, reach, lift, walk, and sleep can relieve the strain on the muscles of your back. For example, elevating your knees to a level slightly above your hips while seated can reduce the pressure on your back. Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees can reduce the strain on your back by nearly 50 percent when compared to sleeping on your back. Using a firm pillow and an ergonomically designed chair can do wonders for your posture by supporting the natural curve of your spine.
Fitness – As the holiday season approaches, you tend to add on abdominal weight—additional weight that makes it harder for the spine to bear. A sedentary office lifestyle, lack of exercise, and a sugar-rich diet can also weaken your abdominal muscles, increasing the strain on your spine and its supporting muscles. Keeping fit with exercises that target the abdominal and back muscles strengthen these areas and relieve the muscles that support your lumbar area. Overall reduction of body fat also helps keep your spine healthy.
Avoiding Strain – Twisting while lifting heavy objects is one of the most common causes of spinal injury. When lifting a heavy weight, bending your knees distributes the load to the larger muscles of the leg, which in turn reduces the risk of spinal injury. The American Chiropractic Association recommends distributing heavy loads by splitting them into two lighter loads and holding heavy objects close to your body while carrying them.
Quit Smoking – The tars, nicotine and other chemicals in tobacco-based cigarettes lower blood flow to the spinal discs. Avoiding smoking allows the spine and surrounding muscles to repair themselves quickly. Adequate hydration also aids in the repair process, ensuring long-term spine health.
Overall fitness, posture, proper spinal care while working, avoiding cigarette, and adequate hydration are some of the factors that help your spine stay healthy. Simple lifestyle changes such as crossing your legs while seated and sleeping on your side can relieve many of the stresses on your back, that when left unchecked could result in spinal injury and chronic backache. As one of the most resilient structures in the body, caring for your spine is vitally important to enjoy a pain-free life.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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