Avoid sustained postures
Our bodies are built to move. Sustained postures (good or bad) can often be a cause of pain. Likewise, the more often we don’t move the quicker we lose the capability to move (use it or lose it). Keep moving as often as you can, if you have to sit whilst driving, rock your pelvis forward and back. If you are at a desk, get up and move around, stretch your arms, move your neck from side to side. The more movement you have in your day the happier the spine will be.
Have a movement practice
On the note of movement, have a movement practice. This could be almost anything – most commonly, yoga, pilates or martial arts. We should be challenging our flexibility, balance and strength on a daily basis. This keeps the muscles strong, the joints mobile and the brain balanced. We should be moving our bodies in various ways to keep our spine happy. I also recommend learning new movements or new skills as a way to challenge the body.
Incorporate strength training
Strength training at least 2-3 times per week has been shown to reduce injury rates. Strength training not only has an affect on the muscles but it also builds bone, cartilage and ligamentous resilience. The stronger your tissues are the harder they are to break – hence they reduce injury rates. The goal of strength training isn’t necessarily to bulk’ the muscles, rather it is to teach the body to lift and move under load. To start strength training, find a great coach who you can train with or who can make you a program for home.
Sleep quality is very important for avoiding back pain. Good and consistent quality sleep has also been shown to reduce pain levels. Make sure you have a good routine before going to bed. Avoid electronics or bright lights at least one hour before bed. Minimize caffeine and sugars as well. If you can, dim the lights or turn off unnecessary lights half an hour before bed. This will ‘prep’ your brain for sleep and allow a better nights rest. Sleep position is also very important. Avoid stomach sleeping if possible. Ideally sleeping on your back or side (with legs aligned on top of each other) will reduce the opportunity for torsion or strain of your spine.
Remember that the body is not made of individual components, it is ONE body. To look after your body you must look after it as a whole. Move often, stay strong and sleep well.