5 Tips for a Healthier Back

woman holding back

About 80 percent of the U.S. adult population experiences back pain at some point. Here are five tips for keeping your back in top condition:

1. Lose weight: to provide adequate balance to the spine.

2. Quit smoking: as this causes active degeneration of lumbar discs. Also remember that if you ever need lumbar surgery, the surgery is likely to fail if you cannot quit smoking.

3. Exercise regularly: start slow and increase the time and endurance by aerobic, stretching or strength training. You may have to try various types of exercises to see the one that is best for you and do it regularly for improving your back pain.

4. Correct your posture:       

  • Place a small towel roll under the low back and pillow below the knees if you are sleeping on your back. When sleeping on the side, place a pillow between the knees to make the spine align well. If you are driving long distance, have small lumbar support and adjust the seat for achieving normal spinal curvature.       
  • Avoid sitting more than 20 minutes, for example at work. When sitting, try to have the knees at the height of the hips by using foot rests. Have a lumbar support in your chair, which brings the spine into an optimum position.       
  • Change positions often if sitting or standing more than 20 minutes.       
  • When standing, stand erect and make sure to keep your head, shoulders and pelvis alined well.

5. Use medications sparingly: The best medications are muscle relaxants and over-the-counter NSAIDs such as Aleve and Advil. Avoid long-term narcotic use for low back pain.

Dr. Gayatri Sonti is a neurosurgeon at the SwedishAmerican Neuro & Headache Center. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call the Neuro & Headache Center at (779) 696-9512.