It doesn’t have to be the start of a New Year for you to make a plan to get healthy. If you have back pain, you may want to relieve the pain by resting your back. It’s actually much healthier to keep moving. Exercise will not only strengthen your core muscles, which are key to supporting your spine, it will also help to improve many other areas of your health. An important caveat: Before beginning any new exercise or diet, however mild, it’s important to speak to a physician like Dr. Solomon Kamson first. You want to be sure that you are not doing anything to exacerbate your back issues, either by doing the wrong type of exercise or by having improper form. Here are some tips for making healthy changes:
Choose the exercise that feels the least like exercise. If you don’t like going to the gym, don’t make that the cornerstone of your health routine. Instead, choose an activity that provides good exercise specifically for your back, but that you find enjoyable enough to do every day. For example, you might try taking a bike ride or a walk around town. The more that exercise feels like something you want to do rather than have to do, the more you’ll do it.
Change out one food at a time. If you’re worried about committing to long-term changes to the way you eat, start small. If you try to totally revamp your diet in one go, you’re more likely to give it up—cravings for your favorite comfort foods have a way of taking over. Instead of dropping everything, transition into a new diet by substituting one new item at a time. Give up one unhealthy food and incorporate one new healthy item in its place. For example, you could cut out salty deli meats like pastrami and switch to salmon or tuna salad in your sandwich (oily fish like these have back health benefits).
Try to identify habits that may be intensifying your back pain. Start keeping a calendar or a diary to help you track when you are feeling back pain. Pay attention to factors including time of day and day of the week that you experienced pain, where you were, and what you were doing. One additional item to pay attention to: How long you were sedentary that day. Being sedentary does not necessarily refer to lack of exercise here, but to the duration of time you spend sitting. It’s not just that sitting with poor support or bad posture can contribute to back pain. Recent research has found that staying seated, without getting up and moving around periodically, can contribute to many health problems.