These days, most of us don’t treat our backs too kindly. Busy work lives and social calendars mean we’re slumped over computers for hours on end, or looking down at phone screens to like, swipe, and post the day away. We walk less and are more likely to destress in the digital world than in the great outdoors. In short, modern life is not the best recipe for long term spine health.
Not only is a bad back detrimental for your overall health, it’s also a sure fire way to ruin a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing worse than trying to settle down for a nap or a full eight hours and finding it impossible to get comfortable, no matter how much you toss and turn, because of muscular or nerve pain.
World Spine Day was last weekend on the 16th October and so we’ve pulled together tips for keeping your spine in tip top shape, preventing back pain, and setting yourself up for a better kip in the long run.
Get up and stretch
You might be beyond the days of your mum nagging you about your posture, but if you’re looking to treat your spine with a little love and tenderness, standing up straight is a good place to start.
Take a few seconds to notice how you’re sitting or standing: are your shoulders tense and hunched forward? Are you leaning to one side? Inhale deeply and relax your muscles then imagine there is a thread from the tip of your head that it running down your back and that someone is pulling lightly on it until you straighten up.
Set up a spine-healthy workspace
These days, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll spend the majority of your working week in front of a computer screen. If you can’t manage to put aside time in the day to get out of the office and take a walk, incorporating little bursts of activity into your day is a great way to stretch and strengthen your spine.
Try to get up out of your chair every hour and walk around to relieve pressure on your lower lumbar. Take five minutes to run through a sun salutation, and if you can brave being the person who shunned their office chair for a fitball, then make the switch!
There are ways to make your desk space friendlier for your spine too. Position your computer screen just below eye level and avoid working straight from a laptop when you can. This will help you keep your neck straight so you don’t need to droop and put stress on your upper spine.
Don’t spend your whole weekend in bed
It might be tempting (trust us, we know) but spending a whole weekend curled up in bed isn’t good news for your back. Too much time spent stationary and horizontal is a killer combo that not only puts unnecessary pressure on your spine and nerves but will weaken all your muscles overtime, making you more prone to injury.
No one is saying you have to give up your weekend lie-in, but once you’re awake try to get up and out of the house rather than binging netflix, propped up on a stack of pillows. Treating your bed as a place for sleep and relaxation will also make you more mindful of your sleep routine which will go a long way towards improving your overall sleep quality.
They may seem small, but these changes will do wonders for keeping your spine healthy and help ward off back pain in the long run. Your spine does a lot for you so give back (no pun intended) with a few minutes of daily stretching.
Has reading this made you more aware of your posture than you have been in a long time? Read more tips for preventing back pain at the World Spine Day website.