There are ways to decrease your risk of injury and ensure a healthy spine throughout all stages of life.
- Make healthy food choices and eat balanced meals throughout the day. Nutrient rich foods provide essential vitamins and minerals to bones, muscles and tissues.
- Healthy eating habits promote a healthy body weight. Extra weight can cause undue stress to the spine.
- Drink plenty of water. The spinal cord is made up of approximately 60% water. If you are dehydrated, your spine will be affected.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking impairs blood flow and decreases oxygen absorption which negatively impacts all body systems.
- Exercise is important to overall health. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends at least 2.5 hours of vigorous activity per week (30 minutes of activity 5 times a week).
- Take 5-10 minutes before and after each activity to warm up and cool down. Stretching reduces the risk of injury.
- When lifting items, lift correctly. Avoid picking up heavy items directly from the ground if possible. When picking up an item, bend with your knees, tuck in your pelvis and hug the load.
- Pay close attention to body posture, especially when seated for long periods of time. Take frequent, short breaks or stand up periodically.
- When at all possible, prevent and reduce stress in your life. Stress can cause muscles to tense up, headaches, and other body aches. Acute stress may also lower your immune system and make you susceptible to viruses and other illness.
- Get plenty of rest and stick to a regular sleep schedule. 8 hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults.
- Develop effective ways for your body and mind to deal with stress: Going for a walk, taking up a yoga class or reading a book are just some options that may help you cope.