Top Myths About Your Spine Revealed
In this age of Google and rapid-fire internet searches, a lot of misinformation is going around about how best to take care of your spine.
Well, here at CCSS, the health of your spine is our top priority, so we set out to separate the facts from the fiction, and put to bed some of the bologna out there about spinal care so you can inform yourself, prevent injury, and have a healthy spine.
Myth #1: Sit Down to Rest An Achy Back
False! On the contrary, more and more research shows that sitting can actually have a negative impact on our spines and bodies. When sitting for prolonged periods, you often use poor posture and slump over, causing the intervertebral discs in your spine to compress. Did you just feel yourself sitting up straighter as you read this? Good. Because that compression can lead to degeneration in the disc, which in turn can lead to pain and even more serious problems for you down the line. The distribution of your weight is different when you stand and can be more effective in keeping those discs healthy. Not only that, but sitting all the time is bad for your health in general!
If, for whatever reason, you must sit for long periods of time, make sure that you have an ergonomic chair and that you are using good posture. Sit up straight and distribute your weight evenly on your hips. If you work at a computer all day, make sure it is at eye-level so you don’t slouch. Also, don’t forget to take those breaks. Get up once an hour and walk around. Your back will thank you for it.
Myth #2: A Standing Desk is Great for Your Back
True, but only up to a point. Yes, we just talked about how standing can be better for your spine and overall health than sitting. However--standing all day isn’t great for your spine either, especially if you are wearing the wrong footwear (think high heels), or using incorrect posture and slouching over as you stand. The best advice is to have a healthy mix of sitting and standing throughout your day.
Again, good posture is the key. Not only will great posture help keep your body correctly aligned, whether you are standing or sitting, but it will also help to strengthen your core muscles, improving that alignment even further.
Myth #3: Lifting Weights is Bad for Your Back
True, but only because you’re doing it wrong. You can sustain an injury from lifting anything-not just heavy weights. While it may seem counterintuitive, lifting weights can actually protect your spine from injury as long as you do it right. Frequent and correctly executed lifts are a good addition to any exercise regimen because they build up bone density and core strength, helping to keep you and your spine safe from injury. If you couple weight lifting with exercises that stretch your back and build good posture, like yoga or pilates, you’ve got the winning combination for a healthy spine!
Myth #4: Carry a Backpack Instead of a Purse
True AND false because it’s complicated! Purses may be great for fashion and for convenience, but they are a literal pain in the neck if they’re too heavy. Oh, and news flash: your purse probably is too heavy. The average purse is almost 7 pounds! That’s over 3x the recommended weight it should be. Quick rule of thumb: If it’s heavier than your laptop, it’s too heavy.
Backpacks can be just as bad, especially if they are not worn correctly. You should always use both shoulder straps and the pack itself should fit snugly against your back, not dangle down, and so tighten those straps up! Just like the purse, don’t overload your backpack. A standard school backpack should never be more than 10-15% of the wearer’s bodyweight.