The spine is one of the most delicate parts of the body. Thirty-three vertebrae bones lock together to create the spinal column. The spinal column is a major support structure for the body and it protects the spinal cord. In addition to the vertebrae, the spine consists of ligaments, discs, tendons, muscles, and nerves.
There are many ways in which a spine can be injured. The legal team at SeriousAccidents.com has handled hundreds of personal injury claims in San Diego. Spinal injuries are among the most common issues, particularly in cases involving a vehicle collision or work accident. Part of their work involves calculating the long-term costs and inconveniences connected to an injury. With spinal cord injuries, proper treatment and care go a long way in reducing the possibility of chronic discomfort.
If you’ve suffered a spinal injury professional medical care is often necessary. However, there’s a lot you can do on a day-to-day basis to improve spinal health and minimize the side effects during recovery.
Wear Supportive Shoes
Exercise is vital for overall health. Even after suffering a spinal injury, walking is highly recommended. Walking is a low-impact form of exercise that’s safe for all fitness levels; however, footwear is an important consideration. Wearing shoes that lack adequate support can actually increase the risk of an injury.
Fit is extremely important when choosing comfortable walking shoes. If the fit is off shoes can’t provide good support, could increase the risk of a fall and may cause discomfort that discourages exercise. The arch of the foot will also play a role in how supportive shoes feel. You may want to consider having custom insoles created so your shoes are supportive as possible.
Practice Good Posture
The way we sit and stand has a huge impact on spinal health. Doctors recommend standing and sitting in a neutral position. With a neutral position, the spine curves naturally and is aligned. It resembles an elongated S shape. This posture position helps to improve balance and protects the spine from injury. Posture outside the neutral position produces more strain and stress on the spine.
Be Careful Bending and Twisting
Standing and sitting with a straight spine is important, but the spine was meant to move around. Twenty-four of the vertebrae bones move so that the body can twist and bend. However, bending and twisting during strenuous activity increases the possibility of an injury. Repeatedly bending and twisting can also cause discomfort and aggravation.
Lift the Proper Way
You’ve probably already heard the advice lift with your knees, not your back. Lifting poses such a high risk of back and spinal injury the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created lifting guidelines for various industries and professions.
Proper lifting technique involves the following:
- If you need to pick something off the ground squat down bending at the knees rather than bending at the waist.
- Grab the object securely and raise up slowly keeping your back in a neutral position.
- Always get assistance if you’re not sure you can lift an object.
- Wherever possible use dollies, handles and other tools to reduce the strain on the back.
- Only carry what you can comfortably pick up.
- Turn your entire body instead of twisting at the waist while lifting.
Sleep on Your Back
How you lie down when you sleep can also make a difference in spine health. Some sleeping positions are better for the spine than others. Health experts agree that the best sleeping position for the spine is lying flat on your back. As long as you have a supportive mattress, sleeping on your back will spread the weight across the spine and hold it in a more neutral position.
Stretching is good for our spinal column since it improves flexibility and relaxes the muscles. When ligaments are more limber and muscles are more relaxed injuries are less likely and pain can be improved.
Virtually every movement we make involves the spine to some degree. Be very conscious of how you move throughout the day. Avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long to prevent overexertion. It’s best to alternate positions so that more muscles are engaged and supporting the spine.