No one enjoys back pain, but many people assume it stems from old age or bad genes. Although age and genetics are contributing factors to back health, they aren’t the sole cause of back pain.
As children grow, poor habits may result in poor spine health. Here are seven ways to promote spine health for young and old.
1. Rest your back
Sleep is essential for a healthy back. While you and your children rest, the spine decompresses and renews itself for the following day. If the bed isn’t comfortable enough for a restful sleep, this renewal won’t happen.
Avoid doing anything that takes away from a restful sleep, including using electronics at bedtime.
2. Wear supportive shoes
Spine health declines when the feet (and, by extension, the body) are having problems. A simple gait change resulting from a sore foot can cause problems from the ankles up to the neck.
Wear shoes with enough support to ensure comfort and lower back support. Invest in shoes that prevent over pronation or supination (inside or outside rolling of the foot), which can lead to misalignment of the spine.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise promotes back health. Those with existing back pain might be reluctant to exercise for fear of worsening their situation, but regular walking increases flexibility and circulation in your back and throughout your body.
Encourage your family to exercise often and together. Use it as a way to enjoy family time and the outdoors. By strengthening your core muscles, you’ll increase support from ligaments and muscles around the spine. Consult with a doctor before beginning strenuous exercise programs.
Remember to stretch, too. Stretching helps maintain flexibility and dexterity throughout your body, including in your back.
4. Practice good posture
Your parents weren't just being vain when they told you to sit or stand up straight. Good posture promotes proper spinal alignment and health. It is as important while sitting because your lower spine receives more pressure in this position. Set an example for your kids by not slouching or leaning too far forward, and encourage them to sit and stand up straight to relieve stress on lumbar discs.
At work, look for ergonomic office equipment, including a supportive office chair and a desk at the proper height. Develop a habit of getting up and moving around each hour to keep your spine flexible and not overtaxed.
5. Carry with care
Lift with your legs rather than letting your back do the work. Children might not do a lot of heavy lifting, but they usually wear a backpack. To prevent damage to the spine, teach your child how to properly load and wear their backpacks.
Promote spine health by looking for bags with these features:
- Lightweight material
- Individual compartments
- Padding on the back and straps
- Thick adjustable straps
- A waist belt or hip strap to redistribute weight
Wear backpacks snugly, using both straps. Bags with one strap put unnecessary stress on one shoulder, causing discomfort. If you discover a laptop or certain device is too heavy for the backpack, consider carrying it in another bag.
6. Stay relaxed
Stress is one of the worst offenders when it comes to poor spine health. To cut back on stress, meditate by yourself and with family members. This will allow your spine to decompress and remain loose while promoting mindfulness.
Enjoy a massage to help the body release natural painkillers or endorphins. You’ll be less stressed and more ready to deal with whatever.
Encourage drinking plenty of water to help maintain soft tissue. A well-hydrated body is more likely to enjoy elasticity and fluidity of movement in the joints.
Visit a chiropractor for help with any back pain and to check up on your back health. The Southwestern Ohio Chiropractic Association has more recommendations for back health as well as listings of chiropractors near you.