Protecting your spine and increasing back strength is essential for an active and healthy life, and some of the best ways to strengthen your back include massage, hot and cold compress, capsaicin creams, proper sleep habits, altering your diet, working smarter, and improving workout form, among a number of back-strengthening exercises.
By following these suggestions, you’ll get a stronger, more flexible back that is less likely to cause you pain. Let’s boost your back!
Importance of Back Strength
When it comes to our physical core, there are few things as important as our spine, which is located along the middle of our back. The spine gives our back the flexibility, mobility, agility, and strength needed to promote healthy movement. However, the spine and the back are also fragile in certain ways. Generally speaking, you can put a huge amount of stress and strain on them throughout the course of a single day, and even over an entire lifetime! Therefore, protecting your back and taking certain precautions to keep it strong and healthy is vital for your health.
Back issues are diverse, although most commonly they involve sprains, herniated discs, and fractured vertebrae. Back injuries from accidents and traumatic events are unavoidable, but aging can also increase back pain. As we get older, even the most commonplace activities can cause strain, pain, and twinges in our back. These are good indications that something needs to change in terms of your back maintenance.
The lower back, or the lumbar area, is the most common point of pain for people, as it supports a significant amount of our weight throughout the course of our life. Your lower back is especially vulnerable to injuries from lifting, bending and rotating movements, all of which are quite common in daily life.
Fortunately, there are many techniques and lifestyle changes that can keep your spine and back protected as you age. So, without further ado, let’s look at 11 ways to boost back strength.
Ways to Boost Back Strength
To get your back into shape, try these strategies for back strength. It’s important to look at all these areas in order to determine what is aggravating your back pain. Let’s take a closer look at some effective strategies.
The most common back problems can arise at the office. Particularly for those in office jobs, sitting for hours at a time can cause your muscles and joints to lock up, making the injury or strain more likely. When you prevent proper blood flow to your back cells and tissues by tensing your back muscles or slouching, you’ll feel the consequences when you eventually move. Try to work while standing up, move around the office or at least use an ergonomic chair.
Get Better Sleep
Proper sleep is key to resting and restoring your back muscles at night; if you sleep on your side, you’ll experience less strain on your back, but you may need two pillows to keep your head and neck aligned with your spine. Try to stay comfortable, without putting excess strain on your neck or back. Sleeping on your stomach should be avoided. In addition, it’s important to get enough sleep. Your body needs time to recover and repair. If you put the strain on your back daily, make sure that you find a comfortable position in bed, so you can get restorative, 8-hour rest.
Hot and Cold Therapy
While people are familiar with hot and cold compresses after an injury, few people do this on a regular basis. However, hot and cold therapy can be effective for pain relief on a daily basis. To relieve the daily strain and stress along your spine and back, apply alternating hot and cold packs on your back. This will increase blood flow and relieve muscle tension, making your risk of injury and pain less likely.
An expert back massage can heal your back in the long-run. Massage therapy helps keep your back relaxed and uses touch to reduce stiffness and tension. Deep-seated and long-term knots or tension in your back can alter the way you sit, sleep, and walk. This can throw off your body’s balance by redistributing weight and stress to other joints and parts of your body. Rather than shifting the issue to other parts of your body, let the soothing and stress-reducing touch of a massage therapist help the healing process.
Diet plays a key role in your back health. Lean muscle is the key support structure for your spine and back. A plant-based diet that focuses on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and beneficial fats can help increase your production of lean muscle. Ensuring a balanced diet of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids can help reduce inflammation of joints, tissues, and vertebrae, relieving pain and increasing mobility.
Specifically, it’s a good idea to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes plenty of fish, olive oil, and fresh produce. This diet also cuts out processed foods, which can increase inflammation and pain. Help your back by watching what you eat!
There are many anti-inflammatory creams out there that can be applied to a sore back. For an organic and powerful approach to managing back pain, capsaicin cream can be very effective. This cream can give your body a deep, soothing feeling, as well as a strong mineral boost to relieve pain, slightly numb the area and promote normal movement.
Many people injure their back while trying to make it stronger, namely while exercising. For those who lift weights or perform high-impact cardiovascular exercises, watch out for excessive jerking or pounding on the tissues and muscles of the back. This kind of force can easily lead to back injuries, herniated disks, and inflammation. Instead, low-impact cardio, such as swimming, yoga or Tai Chi, is highly recommended for those with back problems.
You should begin and end every day with stretching if you want to make the most of your back health. By warming up those muscles and tissues, you’re far less likely to injure yourself by bending, straining, lifting or twisting. Take 10-15 minutes in the morning and at night, or even in the middle of the day if you have time. By warming up your muscles, you can significantly lower your risk of back injury and seriously boost your flexibility and back strength.
Reverse Fly Exercise
In terms of a specific exercise that can improve back strength, try the reverse fly. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your back straight and bend slowly forward at the waist. Raise the weights to either side of your body. You should feel the work being done by your shoulder blades. Try to keep your lower back down and relax that part of your back.
Monitor your Tech Use
In our modern age of constant technology, you can cause back problems by hunching over tablets, smartphones, and computers. This often results in a forward head position in children during their developmental years and puts chronic stress on the neck and spine. If you want to boost your back strength, put your phone down and take regular breaks from technology throughout the day!
Work on your Posture
Improper posture can put a constant awkward strain on the muscles, discs, and tissues of your back. This unusual strain is “addictive,” meaning that having bad posture will eventually become more comfortable than “good” posture, even though it’s actually damaging your body.
Next time someone tells you to “sit up straight,” listen to them! Try to consciously monitor how you sit, lean, sleep, walk and drive. Your back will definitely be stronger if you improve your posture during those daily activities!
We hope these 11 areas will help your back stay strong and keep your pain at bay!
This article is medically reviewed by Dr. Brent Wells, who is an Anchorage, Wasilla and Juneau Chiropractor.