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World Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Day: 10 Ways to Keep Your Spine Healthy

World Spinal Cord Injury Day is observed on 5 September every year. Initiated by the International Spinal Cord Society (ISCoS) in 2016, the day aims to increase awareness amongst the general public, to facilitate an 'inclusive life for persons with disability and ensure greater chances of success of prevention programmes.'

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The 2020 theme for SCI Day is Covid-19 and SCI: Staying Well, with an elevated focus on the prevention of Covid-19 for persons with spinal cord injury. Individuals with spinal cord injuries are more vulnerable than others, especially amidst a pandemic that has adversely affected the physical, psychological and social needs of those persons in a wheelchair [1].


Importance Of Spinal Health

The spine acts as a link between your brain and the body. Spine has been often an overlooked part of our body, no matter whether we consider daily care or special care. But, offering some care for your spine will be the best thing that you can do to keep your body in its ultimate healthy state.

Many conditions may disrupt the transfer of instructions from the brain to the body. This usually happens when there are any problems associated with the spine or its protective covering, the vertebrae. So, it is essential to consider the spine and vertebrae together while considering your back care.

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Also, remember that there is no point in trying for supportive measures after your spine is in danger. So, make spine care a part of your daily routine as this will help prevent any future complications. On this Spinal Cord Injury day, we have gathered a list of things that you can do to help improve your spinal health. Here are some important and effective tips for spinal health. Include this in your body care regimen and see how it will change your overall health and wellness.


1. Check Your Sitting Posture

Maintaining a good posture while standing, sitting and lying acts as one of the most crucial tips for spinal health regardless of age [2]. This will bring you an added benefit of back pain relief as well. You must reevaluate your sitting posture because sitting increases the load on your spinal discs by 40 per cent, which may cause spinal nerve inflammation or compression [3]. Therefore, you must take time to adjust your office chair and desk to support your spine.

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2. Make Exercise A Habit

As with any other body part, regular exercise is one among the most important tips to maintain a healthy spine as well as improve an injured spine [4]. You do not need to do extensive workouts, a simple exercise program that focuses on stretching and strengthening the back, hamstrings and abdominal muscles can help in improving your spinal health [5]. Also, regular exercise will help avoid many conditions that may affect your vertebrae and spine, ensuring proper back care.


3. Follow A Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is vital for the healthy functioning of the spine. Consume foods that are rich in calcium and other nutrients and vitamins that can play a significant role in preventing spinal problems like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis [6]. Make sure your diet primarily consists of vegetables, fruits, meats, whole grains and legumes rich with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents [7][8]. And eliminate processed foods, and make sure to limit sweets and sugar. While looking for tips for spinal health, you can never go to any other successful steps without including a healthy diet on the top list.

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4. Take A Walk Everyday

Health experts point out that walking can help improve ones' spinal health [9]. It helps nourish your spinal soft tissues, increase the flexibility of your spine, improve balance and strengthen the core muscles [10].

Note: If you have severe spinal pain, take up walking only after getting a clearance from your doctor.


5. Your Pillow Plays A Huge Role

Just like the bed, you sleep on and the chair you sit on, the type and positioning of the pillow too plays a central role in improving your spinal health. Use a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck and lower back, and depending on your sleep position, you will need different kinds and placement of pillows. If you are sleeping on your side, use a thicker pillow to ensure your neck and head are positioned in the middle of your shoulders [11]. If you are sleeping on your back, use a medium thickness or flat pillow so that your neck is not too elevated [12].


6. Massage Therapy And Heat Therapy For Relief

Experts say that massage therapy is an effective treatment for back pain [13]. Applying heat to the muscles around your spine also helps as it increases blood flow, which can help reduce the pain associated with the muscles and joints around your spine [14]. You can try heating pads, heat wraps, warm gel packs, hot water bottles, or a warm bath for relief.

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7. Use The Right Footwear

Yes, the type of footwear you use has a direct connection to your spinal health [15]. Good shoes provide a supportive base that helps the spine and body remain erect, preventing any spinal related problems. Make sure the area of the shoe that fits the back of your heel is snug and not tight.


8. Lift With Your Hips, Not Your Back

One of the common mistakes most of us make while lifting something heavy is putting the whole back into it. Experts point out that lifting heavy items without supporting your spine can put stress on your lower back muscles, causing your spinal joints to lock or your spinal discs to rupture [16]. Correcting lifting involves leading with the hips rather than the shoulders, and keeping your chest forward.


9. If You Smoke, Quit It

Studies suggest that smoking increases the risk of developing degenerative spinal disorders and back pain that can damage your spinal discs and joints [17]. If you are a smoker, gradually quit the habit. Joining support groups and such can help the process of quitting easier.

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10. Make Yourself Comfortable

When we say comfortable, we mean - invest in buying quality products that are designed in a perfect way that ensures complete support to your body. Remember this as one among the useful tips for spinal health while selecting a chair, bed or mattress.


On A Final Note…

Nowadays, it is common that most people work in profiles that demand continuous sitting for long hours. So, ensuring that you find enough time to get necessary movements is one among the essential tips for a healthy spine. Consequently, there are times when you have to realise that home remedies are not going to cure your problems. This is especially important if you have chronic pain that lasts for a long time. Seeking medical help at the earliest will help you get the necessary treatments on time.