It puts up with us and, quite literally, it puts us up. Our spinal column facilitates a staggering proportion of the movements we take for granted. Without it we can’t walk or even sit up straight unassisted let alone play sports, do our jobs or complete a set of deadlifts at the gym. Our spine does a whole lot to keep us happy, mobile, healthy and active, yet all too many of us take this centrepiece of our central nervous system for granted. We warp it through hours and hours of sitting, strain it with poor posture, put it through the wringer when we exercise and often fail to listen when it’s trying to tell us something. Here we’ll look at some ways in which you can mend some of your long held bad habits in order to keep your spine happy and healthy so that you can maintain your active lifestyle even when you’re at a ripe old age.
Warm up and cool down at the gym
Your warm up and cool down are an essential part of your workout regimen. Yet so often you’ll see people (mainly dudes, let’s be honest) walk right through the door and start pounding weights without any stretching or even doing a quick stint on the treadmill. Taking the time to raise your body temperature and stretch your muscles before an anabolic workout will make your muscles more pliable and ensure that they do a better job of supporting the joints take make up your spine. Here are some great warm up exercises to protect your back pre and post-workout.
Listen to your back
Back pain is often a symptom that something is awry in your spinal column or the muscles that support it. The longer you ignore it, the more likely it is that the underlying issue will be exacerbated. Moreover, this could impact on your gait and cause you to move in a way that will cause greater damage or deterioration to your spine. See a physio, chiropractor or osteopath. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that the damage will be mitigated.
Get up and get moving at work
Our bodies were not designed to spend hours and hours sitting each and every day. Yet, not only do we spend 8-12 hours sitting at our desks at work, we typically sit when driving or getting the bus or train to work and spend a significant portion of our leisure time sitting, too. This can lead to myriad health problems and warp your posture, causing digestive health problems and even increasing your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Try to take a break from your desk every 30 minutes even if it’s just to nip to the bathroom or grab a glass of water.
Know when to replace your mattress
Finally, conventional wisdom dictates that you should change your mattress every 7-10 years. Yet, while this is a useful guide, it’s important to know the signs that your mattress needs to be replaced. If you frequently wake up in the night, wake up stiff or sore or feel that your mattress is no longer giving you proper back support, it’s gotta go!