A healthy and strong spine is essential for one to perform everyday activities. With today's fast-paced lifestyle and unhealthy work-life balance, millions of people are known to be suffering from chronic back problems. The spine is made up of a series of natural curves. When the sitting posture is incorrect and there is insufficient support, these arches, over a long time, can cause long-term damage to the crucial spinal nerves. Long periods of sitting increase the load on the spinal discs by 40%, causing them to herniate or pain resulting in inflammation or compression of the spinal nerve.
Maintaining spinal health is critical as the spine is in charge of the body's other vital functions. The spine is the paramount structure that provides structural support to the human body and helps in maintaining the posture. It protects the spinal cord and nerve roots while also assisting in movements.
Everyday activities such as walking, sitting, and bending over can cause excruciating pain if spine health is ignored. It is also important in transmitting sensory information such as pressure, touch, temperature, pain level, and other sensations to skin tissues, muscles, bone joints, and internal organs. Taking care of one's spinal health is critical because it can cause sensory responses to being disrupted and impair sensations in a few areas of the body. If left untreated, it can cause severe damage to the nerve's motor functions, resulting in permanent weakness.
With a regular exercise routine and basic stretches, one can easily maintain a good spinal health. These exercises not only help in preventing back injuries and damages but are proven to benefit the overall fitness.
Best exercises to relive back pain
There are three types of exercise categories:
Strengthening - aids in toning the muscles and endurance
Stretching - improves flexibility and helps for a full range of movements
Aerobic - strengthens the heart and lungs and promotes circulation
Simple exercises that maintain spinal health-
1. Pelvic tilt
Pelvic Tilt is a basic exercise that tones and strengthens the lower abdomen muscles. This exercise requires one to lay on the back with your feet flat on the floor. While tightening the abdominal muscles, one has to slowly push the lower back towards the ground and hold that position for 3 -5 seconds before relaxing. This helps in strengthening the muscles in the lower section of the spinal column.
2. Knee-to-chest stretch
This stretch helps to relax the hips, thighs, and glutes and additionally helps in complete relaxation. To perform knee-to-chest stretch, one has to lie on the back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. While keeping the left knee extended straight along the floor, draw the right knee in towards the chest with the help of your hands. Straighten the spine all the way to the tailbone without raising the hip. This pose should be held for 30 seconds while inhaling deeply, then repeated with the opposite leg.
3. Shoulder shrugs
This is one of the simplest exercises and can be easily performed at any time. To do shoulder shrugs, one needs to stand up straight with feet wide apart. The pose can then be released by gradually raising the shoulders towards the ears while breathing out. The shoulder should be pushed down as much as possible while releasing. This helps in strengthening and conditioning the upper part of the spine.
4. Aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise has shown to have numerous benefits including strengthening the heart and lungs muscles, increasing energy levels, helps in correcting the sleep cycle, reducing blood pressure, and promotes weight loss. Basic cardio activities like jogging, biking, swimming, walking are considered aerobic exercises. By incorporating a minimum of 15 minutes of these low-impact aerobic activities 3-4 times a week, one can easily avoid injury and reduce muscle fatigue.
All the above-mentioned exercises are very easy to do and do not require any major assistance or guidance. However, if there are any other health issues to consider, it is always advisable to consult a general physician or a spine specialist. Along with a regular exercise regimen, it is essential to have healthy eating to supplement spinal health.
(Dr Subodh Shetty is an Orthopedic Surgeon at Apollo Spectra Hospital Bangalore)
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