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Suffering from back pain? Here’s why you need to take care of your spine

The spine acts as a pillar that takes your body weight, which is why you need to make sure you keep it healthy and strong.

Written by Dr Vaibhav Patil | Mumbai | Published: December 16, 2015 7:25:54 pm
business woman suffers from backache on virtual screen background If you don’t take care of your spine, the long-term ill effects include severe backache and spondilytis. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

It can be said you are because of your spine. It’s the series of bones that hold your body together, controls all movements and even the reflexes. Ever heard of the term ‘spinal cord reaction’? It’s almost like a protective shell for the supporting brain to your body, which makes it even more important to understand this set of vertebrae and how to take care of it.

Know your spine:
The spine is a series of bones called vertebrae, just like a series of building blocks placed on top of the other. In between these vertebrae there is a inter-vertebral disc that gives acts as a cushion for the vertebrae as well as absorbs shocks that the body faces when you’re going about your daily routine. Further, the spine is divided into the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx regions.

The spine is divided into the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyx regions. (Source: Basicspine.com) The spine is mainly divided into the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions. (Source: Basicspine.com)

The spine acts as a pillar which takes your body weight. While it allows you to move and bend, it also gives your body structure and support. The spine also protects your spinal cord, which is the column of nerves that connects your brain with the rest of your body, allowing you to control your movements, as well as the functioning of your organs. That’s why is very important to keep one’s spine healthy and strong.

This is of utmost importance for people who have a sedentary lifestyle — meaning, they end up sitting in office and on their computers for most part of the day. Such an unhealthy lifestyle leads to spinal aches, back aches, etc. To avoid such pesky aches and pains, here are some basic tips that will help you keep stay fit.

Listen to your body: Your body keeps sending you signals that things are amiss. More often than not we ignore these signals till it’s too late. Just to make it easier, here are some of the signs you should be looking out for:
1. Travelling pain — Pain that begins in the neck and moves into the upper back, lower back and extremities.
2. Pain that subsides on switching positions.
3. Experiencing sudden back pain when you increase your activity level or do some physical activity for the first time, for example,sitting on a chair that’s different from your usual one, sleeping on a different bed, etc.
Ignoring these signs and symptoms can further damage your spine. If you experience all three, you must immediately see a physiotherapist and make the necessary corrections.

Woman doing yoga in office People who spend long hours sitting on chairs in offices are more susceptible to spinal injuries. Make sure you exercise regularly to keep fit and healthy. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

Keep your spine straight: You must heard and read that you should always stand and sit straight. This is because when you’re sitting, it puts extra pressure on your spine since it is bent. Keep the following tips in mind at all times:
1. While standing, always distribute your body weight evenly on both legs and avoid putting your weight on either side for too long.
2. When sitting on a chair, sit up straight and align your spine in a manner that your ears, shoulders and hips are in one vertical line, and your knees are at right angle and your feet flat.
3. Avoid sitting in one position for long hours. Instead, shift on the chair itself — keeping your back straight, move in front and sit on the edge and after sometime, move yourself towards the backrest again so that your back is completely supported by the backrest of the chair.
4. Also, avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching your shoulders forward, or tilting the head for long periods of time.

Keep on moving: Slouching, slumping and other poor postures become more likely when the muscles are tired. This, in turn, puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. The best way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for 2 minutes in order to stretch, stand or walk.

Exercise: Strengthening the muscles that stabilise the spine and help you move efficiently is very important to keep the spine strong and healthy. Here is an exercise routine that will help you strengthen your back muscles, which will not only mobilise your spinal joints but also help in maintaining a good posture. (Also read: Posture Perfect—Are you standing the right way)

Spine exercises_BB_759

(Image courtesy the author)

Dr Vaibhav Patil is a Muscoloskeltal & Sport Physiotherapist, with prior experience with the Indian team at the 2012 Olympics. He is the co–owner of REPLAY Sports Physiotherapy. Body Basics is weekly column that will focus on everyday fitness issues.

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