As a writer, I spend a lot of time at a computer—like just about everybody these days. And honestly, I don’t think much about it. While I initially thought about spinal cord and back injury in relation to World Spine Day, the reality is, taking care of your spine is important for everyone: from those like me who sit at a computer much of the day, to athletes, people in more active professions like construction, and truckers and bus drivers. Moving properly—and regularly—is one of the best, and easiest, ways to make sure you’ve got your own back, literally.
The stats on back injuries 
- Worldwide, low back pain is the leading cause of disability; it is the second most common reason people visit the doctor. Approximately 80% of people will experience back pain in their lives—that’s a lot!
- Half of Americans who work report back pain in a given year—it is one of the most common reasons that people miss work.
- Most causes of back pain are not serious, but due to mechanical issues. While arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer can cause back pain, it is most likely a simple musculoskeletal injury that can be rehabilitated with simple exercises to stretch and strengthen the spinal column.
What you can do
- The World Spine Day crew has compiled a 3 minute back workout that is easy enough for just about everyone to take part in. Consult your doctor if you have a back injury, are inactive, or if you have trouble or pain with any of the movements recommended. It’s equipment free, and there’s a version for kids, too.
- Link an activity with a posture check—or a few. Adjust your posture when you walk through a doorway, check your text messages, stop at a red light, or anything you do many times a day! If you have an Android phone, there are many posture-checker apps that will provide an overlay on any screen when your phone detects you’re using your phone in a hunched position! (I’ve tried this one).
- If you have back pain, be assessed by a doctor, physical therapist or athletic therapist (more common in Canada). Chiropractors are also experts in the spine and back pain.
While chiropractors seem to fall somewhere between “alternative” and “mainstream” medicine, chiropractic doctors may be a good choice depending on your type of injury, and can be especially successful in treating the lower back . Be mindful that a good, legitimate chiropractor will be honest about their abilities and specialization (usually a certain type of injury or part of the body), admit they cannot treat everything and are willing to “confess” they are not “jacks-of-all-trades”. Chiropractors, like physical therapists, should outline how many sessions treatment will take, and you should be making measurable progress at each appointment.
- Remember, if you are given exercises by a physical/athletic therapist or chiropractor, or your doctor, they can tell if you are doing them! Not doing exercises as prescribed will prolong your rehabilitation, and cost you more money—and pain—in the end!
Treating your back right by sitting up straight and doing exercises regularly can help to ensure you avoid back pain and injury. Figure out ways to integrate this into your life, not just on World Spine Day, but every day!