The biggest challenge in preventing ailments of the back is the vast amount of different types of strain it has to endure, insufficient exercise and incorrect posture. Here are some simple, yet effective, ways to keep your back healthy and fit.
Sit in a natural posture
- Riding-like sitting seems to be the ideal way to sit; the spine is in the same posture as when standing.
- When sitting, for example, in a car or on a sofa, use some sort of support for your lower back to maintain the natural curve in the lumbar spine.
- When sitting on an ordinary chair, sit on the front edge, on top of your sitting bones, (the thighs are in the air), spread your legs as far apart as you feel comfortable and tilt your hip forward to find a good and balanced posture. This posture decreases shoulder tension and vertebrae problems in the neck and shoulder area.
- Adjust the height of the table. Have support for elbows on both sides of your body (table, armrest or elbow supports). The support must not be so high that you need to lift your shoulders when typing.
- Incorrect and excessive sitting is the main cause of bad posture and back problems also among children.
Move and exercise
The back needs a lot of exercise. Only through active movement the circulation in the back is sufficient, which means good supply of nutrients and oxygen, and removal of waste.
- Use of the back muscles increases blood circulation, and thus the intake of oxygen and nutrients. It also strengthens the disks, muscles and ligaments in the spine area. Move as often as possible, preferably several times a day – even for shorter periods at the time. Walk the stairs walk during calls (use Bluetooth and keep the phone on the table) or take a walk outdoors. Any activation of the legs involve the spinal muscles and thus increases oxygen and nutrient levels in the back and the removal of waste through lymph and vein circulation. Swimming is also a good exercise for healing the back.
- If you sit on a two-part saddle chair with a swing mechanism, place things a bit further away from you and then "roll and reach” to get them.
- Practice the use of the swing mechanism by moving the pelvis sideways, but in such a way that the upper body stays in place. Soon you will be doing it unconsciously while sitting and once again the circulation increases in your lower spine.
- You can also do specially designed exercises on a saddle chair and thus boost your metabolism.
- Learn to sit less and move more. While listening to a lecture walk slowly back and forth behind or on the side of the room, watch TV lying on your back on the floor with pillow under the legs (iliopsas muscle relaxes), have walking meetings instead of sitting or standing meetings, and walk with Bluetooth or ear plugs when you talk on the phone.
- Use breaks for back rehabilitating exercises. When waiting for something walk in the corridors or stairs.
Sleep on a healthy mattress and in a healthy bedroom
- Choose a good mattress with the help of experts. Proper alignment of the spine while sleeping is important.
- Have fresh air, temperature max 20°C, turn off all electrical gadgets to avoid electrical disturbance.
Maintain a proper nutritional balance
- Back problems are often associated with the lack of magnesium or imbalance of magnesium and calcium in the body. Copper deficiency is a risk for disks. Good levels (min. 1000 mg) of Omega 3 fat acids are also necessary for joint health. Ordinary food does not contain optimum amount of nutrients for the back. Nutritional balance can be tested by hair or blood analysis.
- Obesity is an additional risk for the back too.
Smoking shrinks the vessels and has been proven to have harmful effect on the spinal health.
Stretch and take manipulation
Your back feels much better if you stretch, rotate and exercise it and have a massage regularly. If you feel that your vertebrae are "jammed”, go see an expert (chiropractor, osteopath, OMT therapist) without delay.
Avoid risks of back injury
- Lifting heavy objects with wrong techniques, carrying heavy loads for extended periods of time, dangerous sporting situations and other risks to the back can be avoided by making smart choices.
- In the morning your disks are full of liquid, avoid lifting heavy objects then.
- After sitting in poor posture in a car, a tractor or a lawn mower, avoid jumping down, lifting or moving fast before you feel that your back has become balanced and stable again.
Avoid back problems caused by driving
To drive a lot often results in back problems. This happens because
- the pressure of the soft tissues against the seat disturbs the necessary circulation
- the seats are not designed to support you in an ideal position, which leaves you in a poor posture
- the movements of the vehicle damage the weakened back further
- the total immobility of the back while driving does not help at all
- tight clothes around the waist block the circulation even more
- poor ergonomics during driving causes muscle tensions that disturb the circulation.
Use all these five means to avoid driver’s back problems
- Use Salli Driver on the seat for better support from your sitting bones and for better posture.
- Adjust the seat carefully as well as possible, adjusting the lumbar support as far in the front as possible. When using Salli Driver the backrest should be tilted further backwards and the seat adjusted further back than normally, so that you are not too close to the pedals.
- Have a several minutes walking break after each 1–1.5 hours of driving.
- Use loose clothes while driving.
- Drink a lot during driving. Liquid flow nourishes also your back.
Learn to know your back
Taking care of your back and preventing injuries pays off – think about your wellbeing and quality of life! Learning about the anatomy and physiology of the back increases your motivation a lot. When you have back problems, pay attention, do what needs to be done and get healthy again. The back health has a lot to do with your overall health.
The statements on the page are based on the following sources:
Michael Adams, Nikolai Bogduk, Kim Burton, Patricia Dolan: The Biomechanics of Back Pain
David A. Rubenstein, Wei Yin, Mary D. Frame: Biofluid Mechanics, an Introduction to Fluid Mechanics, Macrocirculation, and Microcirculation
Marcus J. Seibel, Simon P. Robins, John P. Bilezikian: Dynamics of Bone and Cartilage Metabolism, Principles and Clinical Applications