The changing lifestyle seems to have had an effect on most of our organs including our spine. Around 70-80% of the population at least once in their lifetime have suffered from some form of spinal problem, while for few it is a chronic problem.
Why is spinal health so important?
Spinal health is crucial because the spine controls the body’s vital functions. It is the spine which provides the structural support to our body and helps us to maintain the upright posture. It protects spinal cord & nerve roots assists us to move and perform our everyday tasks. Without a healthy spine, day-to-day activities like walking, getting up, bending over can become extremely difficult. Further, it also plays a key role in transmitting sensory information like pressure, touch, cold, warmth, pain and sensations to the skin, muscles, joints, and internal organs. Poor spinal health can interrupt sensory responses and disable sensations in certain parts of the body. In later stages, it may hamper motor functions of the nerve causing weakness.
Who is susceptible to poor spinal health?
People who are obese, who have had a previous history of injury to the back, who lift heavy objects regularly who sit for long hours and, those who have less exposure to the sun tend to develop spinal problems more often.
Symptoms of poor spinal health
Back and neck pains are the most common initial symptoms. Progression of the problem leads to nerve compression & spinal cord compression which leads to the occurrence of numbness of hands & legs weakness and urinary disturbances.
How to maintain a healthy spine?
A simple change in lifestyle and food habits can help in maintaining good spinal health. Some of the ways in which one can ensure a healthy spine are:
- Taking extra care while lifting weights – Extra care should be taken while lifting heavy objects. While lifting an object one should try to stand close to the object bend only the knees and then lift. The back and head should be kept straight. Do not hesitate to take help if it’s too heavy.
- Workspace Adjustments – Following good ergonomics at work can go a long way in ensuring a healthy spine. Keep the laptop or desktop at eye level. Use furniture, especially chairs that give sufficient support to the lower back. Do not sit for long hours in the same position. Take breaks at regular intervals and change the seating position as and when possible.
- Sleeping posture – People tend to sleep on side or stomach or back. Avoid sleeping on the stomach, if it’s a habit try to keep a pillow in between the legs so that the lateral position is maintained. For those who sleep sideways, the pillow height should be good enough and should cover the neck to shoulder length thereby avoiding the bending of the neck. A thin pillow will be enough for those who sleep on their back.
- Exercise regularly – Yoga and exercises keep muscles relaxed. It promotes good blood circulation in muscles and increases joint flexibility, hence, make it a part of the lifestyle. Normal activities like walking or swimming also keep weight under control and help the muscles to stay active.
- Balanced diet – Balanced diet with the right amount of vitamins and nutrients helps in maintaining our overall health along with the spine. Vitamin D3, calcium and magnesium are some of the essential nutrients for bone and muscles. Vitamin D3 is naturally found in foods like fish, soft bones, Cod liver oil, egg yolks, and curd. Our body can produce Vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight also. Green leafy vegetables, fish, milk products, legumes containing calcium and magnesium, hence including these products in our food intake can help us in maintaining a healthy spine. Water intake helps to keep soft tissue electricity and helps in maintain disc height.