By Dr. Joseph T. Cox
Summer 2021 is upon us, and there’s no doubt it will be better than the summer of 2020 — especially if you follow these five tips for keeping your back healthy while you enjoy time outdoors.
1) SPEND MORE TIME IN THE POOL
The resistance that water provides can be a great tool to strengthen the core muscles that support the spine. These exercises can be as simple as walking through the water at a brisk pace or as strenuous as swimming laps. Both activities increase aerobic endurance and burn calories. I don’t believe there is a better way to exercise than taking a dip in a pool on a hot summer day.
2) AVOID PROLONGED USE OF A BACK BRACE
A back brace can be helpful when used for a short period of time or during an activity that places increased stress on the lower back. With prolonged use, however, a back brace can weaken your core muscles and lead to more, rather than less, back pain.
3) INCREASE YOUR ACTIVITY SLOWLY
Getting outdoors can be exciting, especially when you feel the endorphins released by being in the sun. Sometimes, this can lead to “overdoing it” and place your back at risk for injury. Make sure to know your limits and increase your activity over time. Some techniques to avoid overdoing it include taking short breaks to rest your muscles and splitting a large bag or bucket into several smaller, more manageable containers.
4) USE PROPER LIFTING TECHNIQUES
Pick up objects like a heavy sack of groceries or a box of garden tools by bending at the hips and knees and keeping your back straight. Your back should stay relatively vertical when using proper form. Once the object is firmly in your grasp, hold it close to your body to keep the object near your center of gravity.
5) MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Besides helping you look good in a bathing suit, weight loss can improve your back pain. Every additional 10 pounds we have on our body feels like an additional 40 pounds to our back. The opposite is also true, so for every 10 pounds lost, your spine feels like you’ve lost 40 pounds. Drinking 16 ounces of water 10 minutes before meals, using a small plate and waiting five to 10 minutes before going back for seconds are just a few simple things you can do to avoid overeating.
Dr. Joseph Cox practices with Bienville Orthopaedic Specialists and specializes in general orthopaedics and orthopaedic spine surgery. Reach him at him at (228) 230-BONE (2663) and learn more at https://www.bienvilleortho.com/.