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10 Spine Health Tips for a Pain-Free Lower Back and Neck

Your spine is one of the most important parts of your body. Without the foundation of the spine, humans would be invertebrates – like worms, insects, or jellyfish. The spine is responsible for supporting your head and allowing you to move freely and vertically, which is why it’s so important to take care of your spine and keep it healthy. Below, I share 10 tips that will improve your spine health so you can live a vibrant and active life after the age of fifty.

Why Is A Healthy Spine Important?

Your spine is made up of bone (vertebrae), discs, muscles, and ligaments. It supports your head, neck, and trunk, and allows you to move freely. It also protects your spinal cord — the bundle of nerves that carries messages between your brain and the rest of your body.

A healthy spine is important for many reasons. It helps you:

  • Stand tall and sit up straight
  • Bend and twist
  • Lift things
  • Carry your body weight

These 10 Factors Encourage Spine Health

When your spine is not healthy, it can cause pain (especially in your lower back and neck) and limit your ability to move. These factors provide a solution:

1. Maintain A Healthy weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to have a healthy spine. Excess weight puts extra strain on your back and neck muscles, and it can also increase the risk of developing conditions such as herniated discs and osteoarthritis. Once you are able to maintain your weight it will be easier to keep your spine healthy.

2. Develop Good Blood Flow with Strategic Cardio

The spinal discs need an ample supply of blood to stay healthy. When you are too sedentary, there is extra pressure on your discs which can reduce the flow of blood and cause the discs to degenerate. Cardiovascular exercise – both steady-state and anaerobic – can help improve blood flow throughout your body.

man over 50 having problems with spine health and lower back pain

As probably know already, smoking tobacco cigarettes decreases the blood flow to your spine and can contribute to the degeneration of the spinal discs.

2. Build A Strong Core for Spine Health

Core muscles help support your spine and keep it stable. When core muscles are weak, it can lead to instability and pain.

3. Improve Your Flexibility

Staying flexible is important for your healthy spine. When your muscles and ligaments are tight, it can put extra strain on your spine.

Activities that are highly effective at improving flexibility include mobility drills, swimming, yoga, Pilates, and stretching. Yoga, in particular, can help to decompress the spine and create a bit more room between the discs.

4. Remedy Poor Posture

Poor posture can lead to muscle strain, disc degeneration, and nerve compression. It is important to maintain vertical length in your posture when sitting, standing, and moving.

Good posture helps reduce strain on your spine. When sitting, standing, or walking, keep your shoulders back and your head up.

5. Eat a Healthier Diet

Eating a healthy diet is important for your overall health, and it can also help with spinal wellness. A diet that is abundant with vegetables and quality proteins can help to keep your discs healthy and prevent degeneration.

In particular, many people over 50 have found that an anti-inflammatory diet helps to reduce inflammation and discomfort in the spine and joints.

A diet that is higher in micronutrients – including calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D – will generally be better at maintaining spine health.

 
 

6. Reduce Time on Mobile Devices

Living in the age of technology, it is hard to stay away from screens. However, looking down at your phone or tablet for long periods of time can lead to neck pain and stiffness.

Try to take breaks from your mobile devices often – to move your head and neck around, and avoid looking down for lengthy periods of time.

If it is necessary to use electronic devices that cause neck pain then wearing a neck pillow might help. However, it is best to consult with a spine specialist if neck pain persists.

7. Do Strength Training Regularly

Physical activity helps increase the flow of blood to the spinal discs, which helps keep them healthy. It also strengthens the muscles that support your spine, which can help prevent pain and injuries.

senior man develops spine health with lower back and neck strengthening exercises

Resistance training helps keep your spine strong and flexible. It also helps maintain the health of the discs in your spine.

When lifting, use your legs, core, and glutes instead of your lower back to avoid putting strain on your spine.

8. Wear Comfortable Shoes for Spine Health

Subpar shoes are hard on the human body. Try not to spend too much time in uncomfortable shoes – common culprits (for men )are dress shoes that are too narrow and (for women) shoes with high heels – that put extra stress on your spine and lead to pain.

The wider apart your toes the more foundational support your feet can provide for your body weight. Scrunched-up toes mean your spine will have to pick up the slack that your feet should have provided.

9. Sleep On A Better Mattress

A mattress that is too soft or too firm can cause back pain.

Generally, it can be good for the spine to sleep on your back – so you’ll also need the right pillow that provides enough lift for your neck, but not too much. Ask your medical doctor or chiropractor.

10. Center Your Mind

Stress makes everything worse.

Take time for mindful meditating and deep breathing in silence, particularly when suffering from spinal discomfort.

Despite not working for everyone, studies show meditation can be effective for reducing pain in your neck and lower back.

The Bottom Line on Spine Health

We often don’t think about our spinal health until we experience pain or other symptoms that alert us to a problem. By then, it may be too late to prevent serious damage.

It’s important to take steps to maintain a healthy spine throughout your life. If you experience pain, a physical therapist can help you strengthen the muscles that support your spine. Don’t wait until the problem gets worse before seeking medical help.

Interestingly, not only does the condition of your spine impact your physical health, but it also greatly influences how people perceive you. People with strong, supple spines appear younger when they move across a room. They project confidence and appear trim and highly capable. This is the power of good posture.

Your spine is an essential part of your body, and it’s important to take steps to keep it healthy. By maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and practicing good posture, you can help prevent pain and injuries.

Additional Sources on Spine Health:

Research on How Mindfulness Alleviates Neck Pain – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4941786/

Abdominal and Lower Back Training for Injury Prevention and Overall Wellness – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3806175/

Poor Spine Health Can Impact Memory – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940958/