Health Talk
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We’ve Got Your Back

Healthy-backFor many people, back pain is a fact of life. In fact, back pain remains one of the most common reasons to visit the doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist.

In most instances, back pain is caused by overuse and muscle strain or injury. But there are many lifestyle habits you can adapt to reduce the risk of injury, minimize back pain, and prevent its recurrence and speed recovery.

Exercise – One of the best things you can do to prevent back pain is to be physically active. A regular and varied exercise program eases pain and stiffness, strengthens muscles and bones, and improves flexibility. Stretching exercises with gentle movements such as Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi are ideal, especially for older adults.

One type of exercise that is safe and helpful for people with virtually any back problem is aquatic exercise (swimming or some kind of aqua fit program).

Proper posture – Your great aunt was right. You need to stand and sit up straight! Poor posture such as slouching, hunching over a desk, leaning against a cell phone, standing too long with a sway back, can make your back ache the next day.

Watch those extra pounds – Excess pounds shift your center of gravity forward. This extra weight creates added stress on your lower back. Those who have lost weight often notice a dramatic difference in their back pain.

Eat for strong bones – Make sure you are getting calcium and vitamin D.  We all learned how calcium builds strong bones, but Vitamin D is equally important for your spine because it helps your body use that calcium you get from foods to make your bones stronger.

Wear proper shoes – Preventing or easing back pain can be as simple as wearing the right shoes. Shoes with high heels can throw off your posture and place unnecessary stress on your back. Look for the right shoes for walking; consider getting customized insoles, and when wearing a higher heal, consider arch supports (and possibly a change of shoes for later in the evening!)

Not smoking – Research has shown a high prevalence of back pain among smokers. One suspected reason is that smoking damages the blood vessels that supply the back.  In addition, cigarette smoking is bad for your bones.

Simple Back Exercise:

The Shoulder Blade Squeeze – This is a great exercise for helping you develop better posture as well as counter the effects of hunched “computer” shoulders. It also feels great, almost like you’re getting a massage!

Sit on an armless chair or a stool. While main-taining good posture, pull your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds and then relax. Repeat three to five times twice a day.