Much back pain — probably the majority of back pain — is caused by poor alignment in the spine. Taking care of the spine is vital to both reducing current pain and preventing further health problems that get worse with aging. Here are three strategies for improving spinal health without making any extreme commitments:
- Work On Your Posture
Neck, upper back and shoulder pain are often caused by spinal kyphosis, a rounding forward of the shoulders and middle back. Working on good posture can be difficult at first, but should become habitual as the muscles supporting the proper spinal position strengthen. Good posture doesn’t mean having a ramrod-straight back; the spine has several curves that allow it to support the trunk of the body and absorb shock when walking, so those natural curves shouldn’t be flattened out. Instead, the goal is a “neutral” spine, which means neither flattening nor exaggerating those curves.
- Stretch Regularly
Muscle tightness is a common cause of back pain, so it’s important to take time twice a day to stretch. This maintains the tiny joints between vertebrae, and maintains a regular range of motion. Tight hamstrings (the muscles in the backs of the thighs) often contribute to back pain, since they tug on the back of the pelvis, misaligning the spine and encouraging lordosis. This in turn causes lower back pain.
- Consider an Adjustable Bed
Another option is to use adjustable beds for restful sleeping positions. Because these beds can be adjusted at many points along the length of the body, they’re able to support the natural curvature of the spine. While the cost of adjustable beds (like any high-quality beds) may seem high to those who have been used picking up any old mattress set on sale, it’s been shown many times that overall bed comfort and sleeping in optimal positions — which put less stress on the spine — can reduce back pain.
Would the cost of adjustable bed systems prevent you from considering this option, or would you be willing to invest a little more if it meant a reduction of pain? Join the discussion in the comments.