Bad Habits Are Harmful To The Spine

Reading Time: 4 minutes Back pain is a rite of passage for many Americans. Luckily, there are a few ways to stave off and reduce this pain. The key is to eliminate common poor lifestyle habits. Repeated stressors to the back can degenerate into something worse.

Quit lighting up

Smoking tobacco has been associated with an increased risk of back pain. Smoking narrows the blood vessels, reducing blood circulation and proper oxygenation to muscles and joints in the back. Smoking can promote disc degeneration in the spine by limiting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and heal.

Get moving

Lack of exercise keeps muscles weak and stiff and increases the risk of being overweight. The combination of weak back muscles and increased weight can put enormous stress on the spine. Individuals can find one or multiple activities to get moving like dancing, playing sports, or even geocaching.

Slow down to lose weight

Excess weight adds unneeded stress on the spine and back muscles. In order to slow down the weight gain, people can eat slower. Slow eating gives the brain enough time to send signals of fullness. Overeating caused by depression or emotional struggles can be addressed through therapy and learning alternate ways of coping.

Straighten up

Poor posture while standing or sitting can strain muscles and the spine. Slouching while sitting or looking at a phone puts extra stress on the spine over time. Improper posture when lifting heavy objects can lead to serious injury. Poor posture can cause spine misalignment and other degenerative disc conditions.

Watch what you eat

A lack of calcium and vitamin D can lead to brittle bones and increased risk of spine injury. A poor diet can lead not only to excess weight but also too painful inflammation. Eating a balanced diet of protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables can improve back pain.

Changing daily habits

A variety of productive daily habits can relieve pressure and protect the spine from further damage. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, stretching, and comfortable shoes can keep the muscles and bones strong for a healthy back. Prevention is key. For patients who already have advanced spine conditions, minimally invasive surgery may be a treatment option to discuss with a spine surgeon.

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Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Spine Surgeon

Dwight Tyndall, MD, FAAOS

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