Your back is the crown jewel of your body. Without it, you are screwed. Yet very few of us do the daily maintenance needed to ensure it lasts as long as it should.
I got lucky. Mom found yoga in the 70s, long before there was a studio in every town, and she taught me how to take care of my back early on.
Back pain is an epidemic. More than 80 percent of adults suffer a back injury at some point in their lives, and these injuries often damage careers and destroy quality of life. In fact, it’s the second-most common reason people miss work every year, behind the common cold.
In other words, neglect your back at your own peril.
Living a Spartan lifestyle means constantly bumping against limits. You can’t perform at any level with a bad back, so give it VIP treatment. Train it and maintain it every day. I quickly repair mine when it’s under the weather. Be relentless so you can prevent serious issues from occurring.
There are no shortcuts to keep your back healthy. You have to put in the work. Skipping maintenance now will mean having to do it tenfold down the road if you get injured. Even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll return to 100 percent. I can’t count how many people I know that have had surgeries due to back-related issues!
Below are the three ways I keep my back healthy. They work for me, and I think they’ll work for most of you. But remember: I’m not a doctor or chiropractor, and taking my advice instead of your doctor’s would be a dumb. I will say though, it’s often as simple as maintaining a healthy weight, building a strong stomach, and being flexible. That said, if you’re suffering, seek professional help.
1) Put High-Quality Foods on Your Plate
No, there are no foods that specifically bolster your back. But there are plenty that will keep you strong, healthy, and thin. Research shows that if you maintain a healthy weight your entire life, you’re much less likely to suffer back pain.
Your diet doesn’t have to be complicated: Choose nutrient-rich whole foods, practice portion control, and drink plenty of water. If you prioritize quality, it’s hard to go wrong. You don’t need to count calories or starve yourself. In fact, both often backfire.
2) Exercise Your Pain Away
If you have back pain, especially lower back pain, avoiding exercise can sometimes make it worse. When I feel some pain coming on, I turn to yoga and stretching any chance I get during the day. Often that means while I’m in the shower, on a plane or even during meetings.
Yoga is a zero-impact activity that strengthens the muscles in your core that protect your spine from injury. Here are several specific poses you can try that can help alleviate any existing pain, too: Yoga for Back Pain
3) Stay Consistent
Stretch daily! Don’t expect any results without a heaping dose of self-discipline. That means practicing yoga every week, eating clean 80 percent of the time, and remembering to carry better posture. Results will come faster (and last longer) when you stick with your plan.
There is no magic pill. They don’t exist. It’s hard, consistent work to stay healthy.
If you are experiencing any type of back pain now, talk to your doctor. Otherwise, start taking care of your back today. After 30 consistent days of good habits, you’ll notice a difference.