It’s summer and there’s a good chance that you’re more active than ever. Sometimes enjoying a familiar activity like camping or swimming can lead to new back pain or irritate an old injury. Since a pain-free summer is a good summer, the back pain experts at the Southeastern Spine Institute have compiled tips to protect your back all summer long:
- Consider taking up yoga. In a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, yoga — or at least stretching regularly — benefits those suffering from moderate chronic low back pain. Stretching your hips and gluteal muscles also help protect your back from future pain.
- Do back-strengthening exercises or stretches. If you want to stay out of pain, carve out time at least twice a week to stretch and exercise. Keeping your back and core muscles strong goes a long way to avoiding injury. If you’ve had any physical therapy in the past, do the exercises your physical therapist or doctor advised. Those tips to protect your back continue to pay dividends.
- Take micro-breaks from sitting. Sitting for long periods of time puts pressure on the discs between your vertebrae, leading to back pain. Stand up and walk around a little to protect your back and prevent stiffness. Getting up every now and then, like every 45 to 60 minutes, relaxes your gluteal muscles, too.
- Stand and sit up straight. Be aware of your posture is one of those tips to protect your back that you shouldn’t take for granted. Hunching over your tablet or laptop can cause back pain. Remember your posture when texting or reading, and have your devices at eye level to reduce neck and back strain.
- Avoid heavy lifting. If you have to lift something heavy, remember to bend your knees while keeping your back straight. Keep the mass of the object you’re lifting close to your body to avoid bending your back. This allows the legs to do most of the lifting, while protecting your back from serious injury.
- Take vitamin D and calcium. When you build and maintain strong bones, your spine benefits too. Along with stretching and back strengthening, taking a dietary supplement of vitamin D and calcium is an easy way to protect your back.
- Reduce your stress. Stress tightens your muscles, shortening them and hindering their support of your spine. Stress also increases your sensitivity to pain. Reduce stress with breathing exercises, stretching, meditation and regular exercise.
- Take a walk. Even something as simple as walking protects your back and relieves back pain. Walking strengthens your hip and core muscles. Walking also stabilizes your spine, and puts the least amount of pressure on your back as compared to sitting and standing. And if possible, get out into nature for your walk, which helps relieve your stress too.
- Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight. When you eat right, you not only feel better, your back feels better too. Being overweight stresses your spine and can cause back pain.
- Protect your overall health. Eating well, exercising, sleeping sufficiently and drinking enough water all contribute to a healthy, active lifestyle. A good foundation of health is one of the most important tips to protect your back and keep you involved in the activities you enjoy this summer, pain-free.
Use these tips to protect your back, and you’ll enjoy the activities of the summer. Back if you do suffer a twinge of pain, don’t let it go, because it may develop into a more serious condition. Come into the Southeastern Spine Institute for the best care.