4 Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Back

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Hey Run The Money Nation — got a contributed post here that I think you’ll enjoy. But, hey, it’s for informational purposes only. So, double check with a medical / health professional on any of the below. Got it? Enjoy!

back pain

Back pain is so commonplace that it borders on cliche. How many time have you shared a room with someone who’s winced and clutched their back as they’ve had to get out of a sofa or stoop under a low door frame? A lot, right? Heck, chances are you’ve experienced your fair share of back pain yourself. And the chances are that you just shrug it off… “Meh, it’s just back pain, it’ll sort itself out”. Unfortunately this is often pretty far from the truth.

Back pain rarely comes out of nowhere, and it’s often a sign that something somewhere in your spinal column is not as it should be. Given that we owe so much of our mobility to our spine, we all need to be treating ours a little better. The trouble is that many of us, by nature of our job or our leisure activities or just plain lack of knowledge, can develop bad habits that really don’t do our backs any favors…

Why is spinal health so important?

Keeping good care of your back is important for many reasons, although some are more obvious than others. Of course your spine is what allows you to bend and twist your body. These are fundamental for a range of everyday motions from performing step aerobics at the gym to reaching for your phone at work. We have no idea how reliant we are on the range of motion a healthy spine affords us until we stop having one. Neglect your spine and even essential activities like walking and sitting become an issue.

Your spine is more than just a mobility facilitator, though, it’s an integral part of your nervous system. Information (via impulses) travels up your spinal column to your brain from all over your body. Neglecting your spine can result in a damaged spine that will impede these impulses and lead to a lack of sensation or even paralysis.

Your spine also runs parallel to your esophagus so spinal damage can press against your esophagus, or even puncture it, impeding your ability to swallow food and water. 

Most of us aren’t negligent when it comes to looking after our backs, we’re just ill informed. A lot of us exercise regularly and eat relatively well, but the sad truth is that years and years of little things like incorrect lifting technique at the gym or using heavy tools incorrectly at work can lead to a deterioration of the spinal column which can lead to wear and tear of the spinal discs and joints which in turn can lead to degenerative diseases.

Fortunately, taking care of our spines isn’t a case of completely overhauling the way we live our lives, merely a case of making a few small adjustments and eliminating bad habits that do little immediate harm but can have a cumulative effect on the degeneration of one’s spine.

Bad posture

Remember when your Mom always used to tell you to stand up straight all the time as a kid? That wasn’t just for appearance’s sake. Although good posture can project confidence and make you look your best, it’s also a vital part of maintaining spinal health. If you experience intermittent back pain from time to time, this is likely the result of poor posture. Poor posture not only looks unsightly; making you appear hunched, and distributing your body fat so that you look less slim than you actually are. It can lead to a wide range of health problems from obvious issues like pain and stiffness to some more abstract and potentially damaging. Bad posture can impede your digestive health, make you constipated, exacerbate depression and even increase your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by 64%.

Not changing your mattress

Nobody relishes spending money on a new mattress, but it is a very important investment for the sake of your health. Because we sleep on our mattresses every night, we can become oblivious to the extent to which they’ve deteriorated over time. An ergonomic mattress can improve not only your quality of sleep significantly but help to mitigate the causes of back pain, check it out here. Mattresses really aren’t an accessory on which one should skimp. A bad mattress can impede or disrupt restful REM sleep which can have grave effects on your physical and mental wellbeing. It also deprives your spine of the support that it needs resulting in back pain upon waking or even in the middle of the night, jolting you out of your sleep.

If you wake up feeling stiff, are waking up tired without knowing why or often feel that your sleep is interrupted these are all signs that your mattress is doing you more harm than good and needs to go.

Lifting incorrectly at the gym

Anyone who’s serious about lifting weights will tell you that technique trumps weight every time. Lifting with the correct technique ensures that your muscles are properly engaged with the lift, ensuring that you will see the benefits not just in terms of strength but in proportionate muscle definition. Unfortunately a lot of people (mainly men) pile on the weight for the sake of appearances and risk compromising their technique. Lifting with bad technique can be worse for your body than not lifting at all. Sure, you’ll develop muscle mass, but the damage you’ll be doing to your bones and joints are not a price worth paying. Either through immediate injury or gradual wear, incorrect lifting can create some pretty major health problems for your back and joints all around your body.

Living an unhealthy lifestyle

If you have a sedentary lifestyle throughout which you spend most of your time sitting in a chair and / or looking at a screen and your diet consists mostly of processed foods, you’re at the risk of entering a world of back pain. A poor diet lacking in vegetables means that you won’t be getting enough vital calcium and vitamin D for bone health. Moreover, it can lead to obesity which shifts your center of gravity forward and places a lot of strain on the muscles of the lower back. If you smoke, this is also a red flag because not only does smoking increase your risk of osteoporosis / brittle bones, but the nicotine in cigarettes can restrict blood flow to the disks that cushion your vertebrae. This will increase the rate of their degeneration.

By making a few small tweaks to your lifestyle, however, you can easily mitigate a lot of these risks.

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