How to maximize the function of your back and minimize back pain:
After a lot of recent office visits on back pain, I think it’s a good idea for me to post some information on how to avoid back pain…at any age.
Three things you can do to optimize the function of your back, and not get back pain:
1. Maintain your ideal body weight. The more weight you carry, the higher your body mass index (BMI), the more stress is on your back, its muscles, vertebra and soft tissues.
2. Be physically fit. This does not mean running a marathon, riding a century (100 miles on a bike), or swimming the English Channel. Instead, we recommend participating in aerobic activity in which you raise your heart rate and break a sweat for 20-30 minutes every other day. This does not have to a competitive or a team sport. Noncompetitive, individual activities (such as swimming, jogging, etc…) are ideal, as they can be done whenever and wherever you want. By working on your fitness, you will likely drop unhealthy body weight, strengthen your core musculature, have improved energy and mental outlook. It is a simple fact: people who are more aerobically fit have less back pain. There is plenty of scientific data supporting the need for people to be more active and sit less.
3. Don’t smoke cigarettes or vape. Both of these activities permit the toxic substance nicotine to enter the body. The impact of nicotine on the human body is well-documented, and I will not go into it in this blog. For our topic the impact of nicotine on your back is its effect: severe small blood vessels constriction and inhibition of new blood vessel growth. This strangulates the tissues, which need continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients, and this especially impacts the intervertebral discs. These discs are the shock absorbers in the back, and their health is important for the long-term function of the back. Nicotine accelerates the damage to the discs, causing them to become dehydrated, or lose their water content, which causes secondary collapse and back and possibly leg pain (sciatica). Once the discs are damaged they can never return to normal…they will only continue to become more worn out.
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