At Physiomed, we like to stress the importance of spine health all year round. But this month, we’re taking extra steps to raise awareness because October 16th is World Spine Day. This is a day when everyone from health professionals to school children promotes a variety of spine-related initiatives, including physical activity, good posture and safe working conditions.
Each week our Physiomed clinics interact with hundreds of patients suffering from back pain. Research shows 80% of adults experience back problems, and these issues tend to worsen with age. It’s so bad that the Canadian Chiropractic Association describes lower back pain as an ‘epidemic’. Because so many of us spend hours hunched over a computer at work, this condition has become one of the leading causes of job-related disability nationwide. Although back pain can be the result of a sports injury or motor vehicle accident, it is often worsened by an aging spine.
Disc degeneration and overall narrowing of the spinal canal can occur as part of the natural aging process. But there are steps you can take to slow down this regression and minimize discomfort. So in advance of World Spine Day, here are 4 tips on keeping your spine healthy while keeping back pain at bay.
1. Strengthen core muscles
Many patients believe that treatments targeting the spine are most effective in preventing backaches. But strengthening the surrounding core muscles is just as important. Because your core supports your spine, strong abdominal muscles are key to taking pressure off your back. Targeted exercises that include flexion (bending forward) and extension (bending backwards) stretches will not only strengthen your stomach but also improve posture and alignment. If you’re unsure which exercises are effective for maintaining spinal health, arrange a session with one of our personal trainers for a customized workout plan.
2. Practice proper posture
If your job involves sitting at a desk all day, that’s horrible news for your spine. The spine has a natural curve that’s built to support the weight of your body. But this curve becomes warped when you crumple your body into a chair. According to the faculty of ergonomics at Cornell University, sitting can put up to 90% more stress on the back.
Practicing good posture is the best way to redistribute this excess stress. The best sitting position involves keeping both feet flat on the floor and positioning your knees at the same height or slightly lower than your hips.
3. Make ergonomic adjustments
An ergonomic workstation can help encourage your body to make the proper adjustments. An ergonomic chair with a variety of settings for different seating postures is essential. Your keyboard and mouse should also be at the same level. The weight of your arms should not be dragging you down, but rather supported by the armrests of your chair. Many workplaces have a team dedicated to implementing office ergonomics. Speak to a specialist about customizing your workstation and investing in the proper tools to alleviate spinal discomfort.
4. Butt out
Health professionals are always warning about the effects of smoking on the lungs. But did you know cigarettes are also damaging to your spine? Bone density can decrease when you smoke, which can raise your risk of osteoporosis. Weak and fractured bones can lead to back pain and general discomfort in the spinal area. Smoking can also impair your blood flow, depriving your spinal tissues of nutrients and oxygen.
Spinal Decompression Therapy
Despite your best efforts to protect your spine, you may require Physiomed’s expertise to identify the true source of your back pain. After a thorough assessment, our team of health professionals can create a customized treatment plan to address your specific needs.
One of our most popular and effective treatments is Spinal Decompression Therapy. This non-surgical relief option involves using a motorized traction table to stretch out the spine. This change of position takes the pressure off the spinal disks -- delivering water, oxygen and vital nutrients to these gel-like cushions. The forced, yet gentle, retraction of bulging disks will not only alleviate pressure but also promote healing and spinal realignment.
During Spinal Decompression Therapy, patients are fully clothed. One of our physiotherapists will place a harness around your pelvis and another one around your trunk. Lying on your back, the physiotherapist will then program the motorized table to vertically stretch your spine. All of our therapy sessions can be customized to address your specific needs. Each session takes about 30 minutes. Spinal decompression therapy is offered at our Sherway, Alliston and Vancouver clinics.
Whether your spinal issues stem from the aging process or a motor vehicle accident, rely on Physiomed to deliver customized, hands-on treatment. Reclaim your health and resume all your activities by addressing back pain early on. Even though global awareness will happen on World Spine Day, remember to take small steps all year-round to protect and maintain your spinal health.
For more information on protecting your spine or to book an assessment, contact us here.