Spine or the backbone is a vital flexible and strong structure of our body which protects our spinal cord and nerves as well as helps us maintain posture.
It holds us up and transfers weight of the torso to the pelvis, hips and legs.
Spinal health impacts overall health and wellness.
The spine, which comprises of 24 vertebral bones and discs in between them which act as shock absorbers, run from the neck to the tail bone. As much as the spine helps in maintaining neurological integrity, it helps us to move in any direction dynamically as well as provides stability in postures like sitting, standing or lying down.
How do spine problems show up as?
- Sudden neck pain or persistent neck pain (chronic)
- Whiplash injuries causing neck
- Pain around the shoulder blades
- low back pain
- Pain in forwarding bending or inability to forward bend or lift heavy objects.
- Sudden back spasm which causes faulty posture and inability to walk.
- Prolapse of an intervertebral disc.
- Nerve pain around the spine and down the affected leg, i.e sciatica.
- Sudden fall causing back pain.
- Faulty weight training or exercising method leading to back pain.
- Back pain related to compression spine fractures in severe cases.
- Pain around the tail bone or coccygeal bone pain.
What factor contribute to spinal problems?
- Poor biomechanics.
- Poor posture.
- Lack of mobility in spine muscles.
- Spinal arthritis in older age group people.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Poor diet and nutrition.
- Lifting heavy weights with no proper strength awareness.
- Gym/training errors (pushing too hard too soon).
- Prolonged sitting posture eg: driving or desk work
- Forward neck posture due to prolonged usage of laptop/desktop.
Few ways to maintain spine health:
-Being aware of faulty posture, eg: forward neck posture or hunch back posture.
-Taking note of pain duration and pain pattern, whether it is on & off pain or persistent pain like in people who suffer from spondylitis of the neck or the lower back.
-Strengthening exercises for the back to improve strength in the lower back, abdominal and core muscles around the spine.
-Walking for better pelvic mobility & subsequent use of good shoes for walking to help the spine work better.
-Avoiding gym or training errors while lifting heavy weights, especially avoiding certain forward bending position or lifting heavy objects off the ground in case of severe back pain.
-Avoid prolonged sitting to reduce the pressure on the spine, the intervertebral disc pressure is high in sitting posture along with forward-leaning especially while using the laptop for prolonged periods of time. Move around and get up after every 45mins to break the prolonged sitting position.
-Doing neck and back stretches twice or thrice a week to maintain flexibility.
-Hip muscle strengthening and stretches for easing back pain related to faulty sitting posture.
-Consulting a physical therapist/ Spine doctor to get help for chronic back pain and posture correction/ ergonomic evaluation of work desk to avoid further risk of upper or low back pain.
-Eating a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals for good spine health.
-Consulting a psychologist in case the neck and upper back pain is chronic and induced due to chronic depression or anxiety, which can cause tension headaches, and subsequent neck and upper back pain.
Dr. Janhvi Vayada – Clinical Sports Physiotherapist