The spine is related to a wide range of body movements. A strong spine can help to avoid back pain. If not properly taken care of, the muscles and ligaments of the spine can weaken making movements painful.
Eric L'Italien, a physical therapist with Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Centre, explained that a stable spine is flexible and supports a broad range of natural movements, which reduced stress on the lower back keeping it free from injury and pain.
The question is, how can we get a stable and healthy spine? Exercise is a great way. There is a combo of three exercises suggested by doctors.
The first one is called curl up. This requires us to lie on the back. Then extend one leg straight on the floor and bend the knee of another leg. After that, the hands are placed under the lower back and on an exhalation head, shoulders, and chest are elevated.
Remember not to bend the lower back, tuck the chin or let the head tilt back. This posture should be maintained for 10 seconds and then released. This can be done 5 times for each leg.
The second one is known as side plank. For this, a person has to lie on the side with the upper body propped with the arm. The forearm should be resting on the floor and the elbow underneath your shoulder.
The free hand is held on top of the hip. The feet are then pulled back to keep the knees at a 90° angle. Then the hips are lifted to be in line with the rest of the body and kept in this position for 10 seconds. Then slowly lowered to the floor. This should also be done 5 times for each side of the body.
The third exercise has a curious name, Bird-dog. This needs the person to get down on hands and knees on the floor. Then the left arm is extended forward as much as possible and at the same time, the opposite leg is straightened behind the body.
The raised arm and the leg must be kept parallel to the floor for 10 seconds before reverting to the original position. Like the other 02 exercises, this should also be done 5 times for each arm-leg combination.
There are other exercises we can practice as well. Back flexion-pulling the knees up to the chest while lying on the back and then pushing the head forward for a gentle stretch is a good option.
Tilting the head in a sitting or standing posture until it touches the chest is also a common exercise. In the same way, we can perform an ear to shoulder stretch where the neck is bent on the side in a way to touch the ear with the shoulder.
Hip stretch is another choice, where a person stands with feet and shoulder widely separated, then moves half a step back with the right foot and then bends the left knee and shifts the body weight to the right hip. Reach down the right leg keeping it straight to have a gentle stretch in the right hip.
There are other common exercises, e.g. knee to chest stretch, draw-in manoeuvers, lower black flexibility workout, superman, bridge etc. all this will help to keep the spine healthy.
Additionally, we should practice some lifestyle modifications to ensure the risk of spine injury is minimized.
Sleeping in a firm mattress helps to keep the spine well aligned. A pillow can be placed below the knees to keep the alignment. A neck pillow can also help.
Having a back massage periodically can relax the muscles and keep the spine stable. Using an ergonomic chair while sitting, adopting the proper posture, and taking 5 minutes break to walk around after sitting for half an hour are all recommended.