Health

10 things I learned about back support from expert Larry Feldman

When you sit all day at work, you can’t help but wonder how it’s affecting your health. We’ve read countless articles about the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle on our overall wellness, but we wanted to know what we could do specifically for our back to help lighten the load.

Spine and back health

Masterfile

When you sit all day at work, you can’t help but wonder how it’s affecting your health. We’ve read countless articles about the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle on our overall wellness, but we wanted to know what we could do specifically for our back to help lighten the load. We spoke with Toronto chiropractor Larry Feldman to get his tips on how to ensure we’re mindful of our posture and back through all our day’s activities. Between sleeping, sitting at work and all the time spent in the car it’s easy to forget about our spines. We recommend printing this out and leaving it in your purse for a constant reminder of how you can improve your posture, and in turn, your overall health:

When sleeping
1. Make sure you have a good mattress. A mattress will usually last 8-10 years and since we spend one third, to a quarter of our lives in bed it’s wise to invest in a quality mattress (like an Orthopaedic).

2. Sleep on your side or your back. You can put a pillow in between your knees if you are on your side or under your knees if you are on your back to help take pressure off of your lower back.

3. Do not sleep on your stomach as it forces you to turn your neck one way or the other and puts a lot of stress on your joints.

4. It’s also important to have a good pillow. Although pillow comfort is subjective, it’s important to have a relatively firm, supportive pillow that is not too thick or thin. Your neck should be at a level height; a pillow that is too thick will raise your neck too high and one that is too thin will leave your neck too low and both will put a lot of stress on your joints.

When sitting at a desk
5. Proper workstation ergonomics are a must. Start with a good chair with decent lumbar support that is adjustable in height and has arm rests.

6. It’s important that your monitor is eye level and in front of you (not off to the side).

7. Your keyboard should be at elbow level with your arms at 90 degrees and resting on the arm rests. Take frequent breaks, stretch and walk around.

When exercising
8. Working with a personal trainer (at least at the beginning) is always a good idea if you’re working with weights because they can show you how to lift properly without putting too much stress on your joints. Core strengthening exercises, such as Yoga and Pilates, are crucial for lower back support and an overall healthy spine. It’s also a good idea to work with a certified professional so that they can show you proper technique.

9. Drinking water is so important but especially while working out. Water is useful to help flush toxins out of vital organs and it is also carries nutrients to your cells. The amount of water intake is dependent on your activity level and weight but two litres per day is a good guideline. A lack of water is the leading cause of headaches. If you’re thirsty that probably means that you’re already dehydrated. It is important to drink even more water if you also drink coffee, tea and/or alcohol as they all dehydrate the body.

While driving
10. It’s important to have good lumbar support. Some cars have this built in and you can adjust the settings to give good support for your back. If not, there are many different types of lumbar support pillows that you can buy for your car. If you’re driving for long periods of time (longer than an hour), it’s always a good idea to pull over and get out of your car, walk around and stretch.

Dr. Larry Feldman is the founder and co-owner of the Performance Health Centre, a multidisciplinary health centre based in the heart of Liberty Village in downtown Toronto. He is a chiropractor who takes a special interest in the treatment of artists and musicians.

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