Your body is a complex and interconnected system. Your doctor considers many factors when it comes to maintaining your spinal health, including:
- Your everyday posture
- Your lifestyle
- Your medical history
- How your limbs interact with your spinal column
Just as a pinched nerve in your back can lead to pain in your leg, so can your legs impact your back. Being mindful of the effect your limbs have on your back can help avoid strain and injury. As part of your checkup with your doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute, they ask about any pain or discomfort you’re having in your limbs. Only a doctor can tell you if it’s related to your back pain or not.
Your Limbs and Your Posture
Your posture influences your spinal health. But posture is more than simply sitting and standing up straight. For proper spinal alignment when seated, your legs should be bent with your knees at a right angle, level with or just below your hips. Your feet should rest flat on the floor or a foot rest.
This allows your weight to be evenly distributed at your hips, and your vertebrae to remain stacked in a natural way. When standing, your legs should form a stable base. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, with your weight on the balls of your feet. Let your arms hang by your sides naturally.
Attempting to lift an object using the muscles in your back is a common cause of back injuries. The correct technique relies on your arms and legs to take the strain off your back. To protect your spinal health, take precautions when lifting:
- Create a stable base. Stand near the object with your feet shoulder-width apart. Evenly distribute your weight.
- Bend without twisting. Bend from your hips, not your waist, while bending your knees. Don’t twist while bending. Instead, pivot your feet when you need to turn.
- Lift with your legs. To return to the upright position, straighten your knees and use your leg muscles to lift the weight.
- Keep the weight close to your body. Hold the object close, with your elbows bent, keeping the strain off your lower back muscles. Lift in one smooth motion, using the muscles in your arms to pick up the object.
For smaller objects on the ground, use the golfer’s lift. Shift your weight to your lead foot. As you bend at the hips with your back and knee straight, lift your other leg as a counter balance. Pick up the object and lower your back leg, using momentum to straighten again. Use proper lifting techniques every time to avoid painful lower back injuries.
Exercise for Spinal Health
Healthy muscles in your back and abdomen take unnecessary stress off your spine. Besides building and maintaining these important muscles, exercises such as arm and leg raises, when done correctly, can ease back pain and sustain your spine’s flexibility. Working your legs in low-impact aerobic exercises like walking or riding a stationary bike can also improve blood flow.
Even from your desk at work, in addition to maintaining proper posture, take small breaks throughout the day to move around. Take a lap around the office or do some stretches at your desk. Getting into a regular exercise routine benefits much more than just muscle tone. It’s also vital to your spinal health.