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Daily Habits That Contribute to Spine Problems

Sure, spine problems and pain can be linked to sudden injury, like a car accident, but did you know that the little things you do every day can add up to real trouble for your back? The damage you do this way is like “death by a thousand cuts” to your spine, as opposed to something sudden, like a dramatic “throwing out” of your back from an awkward move.

Dr. Benjamin Cohen sees damaged caused this way over and over again. He considers his relationships with his patients true partnerships in wellness. One thing he stresses is that, no matter what condition he’s treating you for, it matters very much how you care for yourself and your back — day in and day out. In fact, those patterns often affect the treatment you’ll need in the future.

Common habits that are uncommonly bad for your spine

We’ve formulated a quick and dirty list of the most frequently performed and easy to ignore “crimes” committed against your spine. 

1. Tortuous totes

Many people transport way too many pounds of nonessentials with them every day during their travels, and purses and backpacks become strains on your spine when they’re weighed down and overstuffed.

Lugging too much around (do you really need that extra water bottle or textbook?) not only increases your risk for back pain and spinal compression, carrying it on one side exclusively leads to an imbalance in your back, which in turn affects your posture. It’s best to lighten up and switch sides when it comes to toting your backpack or purse.

2. What’s on your feet?

It’s not that we can’t appreciate a great pair of shoes, but what you wear on your feet can turn out to be the culprit when it comes to spinal strain and pain. If your arches aren’t properly supported, which is what happens when you wear flip-flops, or your heels are so high and thin that they cause you to walk in an unnatural position, you set yourself up for stressing your spine. 

It’s best to seek out shoes with good support and “sensible” heels. Insoles and orthotics, products that you insert into your shoes, can also help with back pain.

3. Wet noodle posture

Sitting for eight hours a day can really wreak havoc on your back. The longer you sit, the more you tend to slouch, and if your work area isn’t set up in an ergonomically correct way — so that your upper and lower back are properly supported and your legs are at a 90-degree angle when seated, it’s guaranteed that your spine will suffer. 

If you have a desk job, try to get up every hour, walk around a bit, and be conscious of standing up straight.

4. You (and your back) are what you eat

Following a healthy diet and moving every day can go a long way in preserving your spine health. It only stands to reason that being overweight puts undue stress on your spine. A sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet make the pounds pile on, which has a degenerative effect on your spine. 

A balanced and sustainable eating and exercise plan helps you lose weight if you need to, or maintain your healthy weight. Following these practices reduces your risk for living with conditions like spinal stenosis and disc degeneration

5. Sweet, spine-supportive dreams

If your mattress has seen better and firmer days, it’s time to do your back a favor and replace it. The type and firmness of your ideal bed depends on factors like your build, and it’s important not to sleep on your mattress for too many years. 

Even when you’re prone, your spine needs to be aligned.

6. Lift mindfully

If you pick up a heavy item like a box without using proper form, and you do this habitually, you’re liable to hurt your back. The best practices for lifting include using your core muscles, staying close to the item you're lifting, and using those leg muscles. Don’t twist, either, and keep your body and spine in line. 

7. Don’t blow smoke

Believe it or not, smoking is associated with higher rates of disc disease, constricted blood flow, and slower healing, so continuing with this habit doesn’t do your spine any favors. 

There are already countless reasons to quit — this is another important one. 

This list proves that there’s a lot you can do to preserve the health of your spine, and with Dr. Cohen’s support and care, your back is in the best hands. 

Don’t ignore your back

Whether you see Dr. Cohen for preventive care or to address an injury or chronic condition, don’t wait. We’re offering both in-office appointments and telemedicine visits, and you can set one up by calling our office or messaging us via our website.

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