Tips for a Healthy Spine in the New Year
No one wants to suffer from back and neck discomfort, yet it’s one of the most common pains Americans face. In most cases, you can prevent minor aches and pains by committing to your spine health.
Develop Healthy Exercise Habits
Regular exercise keeps the muscles surrounding the spine strong and reduces your chances of experiencing back and neck pain. However, improper workout techniques and routines can put your body at risk for injury.
Focus on Proper Technique
Whether cycling, running, lifting weights, or doing yoga, proper technique is essential for keeping your body safe. If you are new to an exercise, schedule one-on-one time with a trainer or take an in-person class with a fitness coach who can guide you through the proper technique for the workout. Ask the trainer or coach what the most common mistakes people make with their form are, so you know what to pay attention to when working out alone. If you’re ever feeling pain, strain, or discomfort during a workout, stop and let your body rest.
Warmup and Cool Down
Before you jump into a workout, make sure you allow your body enough time to warm up properly. Your goal of the warmup is to raise your heart rate and break a light sweat slowly. Start with dynamic stretches or soft movements such as jumping jacks, bodyweight lunges, or brisk walking. Once you feel your body loosen up, you proceed with your workout.
After your workout, make sure you give your body time to cool down. You want to slowly bring your heart rate down with low-intensity movements such as cat/cows, arm circles, or a slow walk. Also, don’t forget to stretch your muscles at the end of your workout. Focus on static stretches such as lunge holds, child pose, or butterfly stretch.
Check-in with Your Posture
Having a solid posture can reduce muscle tension and pain in your neck and back, whether sitting or standing. Check-in with your posture when sitting at a desk or on the couch. Are you slouching over a keyboard or book? Is your back supported? Are your feet touching the floor? Do you have support under your thighs and hips?
If you’re spending a lot of time sitting during the day, try to give yourself breaks where you can get up, walk around, and stretch. Also, consider investing in a chair or desk setup that supports your posture and keeps you comfortable while working.
Assess Your Sleeping Position
If you wake up feeling stiff or sore in the mornings, you may want to assess your sleeping position. The way you sleep may put stress on your spine, causing discomfort in the neck and back. When you’re sleeping, you want to keep your spine in a neutral position. The best way to achieve that position is to sleep on your back with a supportive pillow positioned under the head and neck, not the shoulders. The sleeping position that tends to cause the most discomfort is the stomach because it puts your spine in an unnatural position. If you sleep on your stomach, try to change your sleeping position to relieve some of the body’s tension.
Don’t Ignore Pain
You should not be living with back and neck pain. If you’re experiencing daily discomfort, talk to your doctor about a spinal screening to discover the possible cause of the pain. You can also schedule an appointment with a spinal professional, such as the team at Mocek Spine Clinic. We offer advanced spine care solutions through patient-centered care. Our purpose is to provide compassionate care designed to allow you to live your life in the least amount of pain possible. To learn more, you can make an appointment at our clinic or give us a call at 501.224.4001.