Spring is finally here, and that likely means that you're ready to get outdoors and kick your physical activity into overdrive. The winter is just about gone, and you days of sitting at home by the fire wishing it would get warmer are, too. But it's very important to keep your spine in check as you transition from very little physical activity to a highly active lifestyle. Many people end up with spine injuries during the spring because they transition to quickly, or they transition into an active lifestyle without taking proper care of your spine. Below you'll find some tips to help ensure your spine health is this good is it can be, and that you take good care of yourself through this season and on throughout the rest of the year.
Healthy Back Through Heat
Many people are aware that using heat before a workout can help loosen up the spine, and that using heat on sore muscles can relax them. But did you also know that using heat after a workout is just as important? Before and after you do physical activity, help ensure you keep a healthy back by using heat. Here are some tips to help get you started.
- Apply a heat wrap or heating pad to your spine or back before workouts to help relieve spinal strain. This can help you avoid pulled muscles and pinched nerves.
- Use heat before and/or after your workouts to help keep your muscles loose. Working out with tight muscles is one of the most common causes of injury, so use heat to make sure you're keeping your muscles loose.
- Use heat even when you don't need it on problem muscles in your spine. Keeping the muscles loose even when you're not experiencing pain can improve blood flow and help you avoid pain and injury in the future.
That's a Stretch
Stretching is one of the most undervalued practices in fitness. Sure, you might stretch after a run or if you have a tight muscle, but did you know that stretching can actually help you maintain a healthy back and spine? Follow these tips to stretch your spine into a springtime of health.
- Stretch the big muscles before you stretch anything else. Muscles like the hamstrings and quads need to be given foremost attention, then you can stretch the smaller muscles.
- Stretch your whole body. Many people who are trying to take care of their back only stretch their spine, but stretching the entire body can actually provide support for your spine, as well.
- Be gentle. Never force your muscles or spine into a position that hurts, and use slow, controlled movements and proper breathing.
Sleep On It
When you think about maintaining a healthy back, getting enough sleep might not be the first thing that comes to your mind - but it should. Obtaining enough sleep is crucial to your overall - and spinal - health. Always try to keep your sleep schedule as routine as possible, and avoid foods that inhibit your sleep.
Finally, one key factor to back health (and whole body health) is to stay active. Sitting in one place for a long time can be very stressful for your spine, so make sure to get up at least once per hour, even if it's just for a walk around the block. Keep this and the tips above in mind, and make sure your transition from winter woes to springtime celebration is as painless and injury-free as possible.