By Dr. Kristin Kolesar Fabris, DC
Did you know that one-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year and that back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work? Or that back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections? While visiting with a chiropractor for periodic adjustments is a terrific measure to prevent back difficulties, there are many other additional things you can do to keep your back from acting up.
For starters, try to maintain a healthy diet and weight and remain active. Having a pooch or pot belly can put unneeded stress on your back.
Of course exercise is an important part of losing weight and then maintaining an acceptable weight. The one caveat is you want to be certain your exercise program isn’t doing more harm than good for your back. If you are working with a chiropractor, review your exercise regimen with them to be sure that what you are doing is not detrimental.
While getting your rest is important, you want to avoid prolonged periods of inactivity or bed rest.
Remember to warm up for any demanding physical activities, not just the workout at the gym or before your next game/match. An afternoon of raking or gardening can do just as much damage as a competitive tennis match. So, be sure to warm up and stretch out before hand.
Some of these other tips are common sense, such as maintaining proper posture. In other words, you always want to sit and stand up straight as slouching puts more strain on the spine. Wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes will help you in maintaining a proper posture.
Since people tend to sleep a third of the day, you will want an appropriate mattress. A mattress of medium firmness is good to minimize any curve in your spine.
When you have to lift something, whether it’s a box of floor tiles or a box of lint, lift with your knees and keep the object close to your body. Do not twist when you lift!
It goes without saying that if you smoke, you should quit. In addition to many other health reasons, smoking can also have negative effects on your back. How is this possible? Smoking impairs blood flow, which results in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues. Weaker tissues translate to a weaker back, which is more subject to injury.
For those who work desk jobs, your workstation can lead to any number of back and neck issues. Position your computer monitor so that the top of the screen is at or below eye level. You will most likely need an adjustable chair for that. Maintaining good posture while you work is also critical. Sit up straight and try to avoid slouching. Your knees should be positioned at an approximate 90- to 130-degree angle. This can be accomplished by placing a foot rest, stool or similar object underneath your feet.
By following a few or all of these tips, you can make a measurable difference in your overall health and that of your back.
Dr. Kristin Kolesar Fabris is a member of the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island and a practitioner at New England Chiropractic Center in Barrington, RI. For more information, visit www.richiro.org.