Maintaining a Healthy Back

Maintaining a Healthy Back
Dr. Sean A. Jebraili Neurosurgeon Loudoun and Fairfax, Virginia

Dr. Sean Jebraili practices Neurological Surgery in Fairfax and Loudoun county, VA. He brings over 24 years of Neurosurgical experience. As a Neurological Surgeon, Dr. Jebraili prevents, diagnoses, evaluates, and treats disorders of the Spine including disc herniations, spinal fusions and Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery.... more

Having had the privilege of operating on thousands of patients over the last two decades as a Neurosurgeon, one thing that I have witnessed over the years  is how the lack of exercise and stretching can contribute to poor posture and progressive low back pain. One activity that I often recommend to my patients is stretching their hamstrings on a daily basis simply while sitting and watching TV! The exercise is easy and non-load-bearing. Try it and remember -  maintain your back! 

Back pain is a human condition, with 60-80% of the world’s population experiencing pain at some time in their lives. Although there is no evidence that back pain prevalence has increased, reported disability due to back pain, particularly work absence, has increased in the last 30 years. In western countries, back pain is the most common cause of sickness-related absence from work.

1. “Stand up straight”

We have all heard this from our mothers growing up, but mom knew what she was talking about. Correct posture can prevent most back issues. Stand tall, balanced, and aligned.

2. Aerobic exercise

Staying healthy and fit will not only keep you strong and keep your cardiovascular system healthy, it will also help maintain proper weight and strong joints, both necessary for a healthy spine.

3. Lift properly

When lifting heavy objects, kneel to lift the object, keeping the weight close to your body while using the legs to lift rather than the back. If the object is very heavy, ask for help!

4. Learn to hold the phone properly

We all find it necessary to multi-task these days, but holding the phone to your ear with your shoulder puts a great deal of strain on your neck, shoulders, and spine. Use the speakerphone or hold the phone to your ear maintaining proper neck and head alignment while using the phone.

5. Move around frequently

Sitting at a desk for extended periods of time puts us at a much greater risk for back trouble. The hip flexors become shortened, the spine, neck, and shoulders are hunched forward. The spine is in an unnatural position and the hamstrings and glutes become tight, pulling on the pelvis. These add up to a recipe for back pain. Get up and move around frequently. Try some shoulder rolls and stretch the back and neck.

6. Stay hydrated

The vertebral discs are 88% water. Dehydration can lead to degeneration of the discs.

7. Quit smoking

Nicotine restricts the flow of blood to the discs that cushion the vertebrae.

8. Sleep properly

Not only is adequate sleep necessary to overall health, how you sleep is important for spinal health. If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees to relieve the pressure on your spine. Even better, sleep on your side.

9. Maintain flexibility

As mentioned before, tight hamstrings, shortened hip flexors, tight muscles in the chest, and a slouched posture can all lead to misalignment of the spine and back pain. Full range of motion of all the joints is important, particularly around the spine and pelvis. However, be sure to minimize twisting movements as often as possible.

10. Strengthening exercises for the core

Maintaining a strong core is essential for a healthy back. Focus on exercising the abdominal wall (your “six-pack”), the back extensors and the internal and external oblique muscles. Below are 7 exercises and stretches to add to your daily routine. This routine will only take a few minutes, but will save you a lifetime of pain and discomfort.

These are the causes, prevention and treatment for back pain. This basic information helps you to know the reason behind your back pain and also on how to maintain healthy back. Back injury is one of the most painful injuries. If you have severe back pain, then it is always recommended to consult your general physician, rather than self-treatment. You can also follow acupressure treatment to deal with back pain, as there are various benefits of acupressure points.