Tips on maintaining a healthy back and spine

November 2010

"Oh my aching back!" Those words apply to almost all of us at some point in our lives. Studies show that 4 out of 5 adults will deal with back issues at some point. Fortunately, many causes of back pain are preventable - if you take a proactive approach.

The "back" is made up of the 17 spinal bones and cartilage disks, 12 pairs of ribs, over 50 muscles, nerves, blood vessels, thick ligaments and connective tissue. The anatomy of the spine allows us wondrous motion – not only bending in all directions but rotation. Did you know that over half of the force from throwing/swinging comes from muscles in our trunk? Just ask Joe!

Three Tips on how to keep your back healthy:

  • Practice good posture and avoid unnecessary back strain, especially while lifting. Judge the weight of an object before trying to lift it, and get assistance, if necessary. Keep your spine and head upright, and bend deeply at the knees. Make sure to keep the object as close to your body as possible since stress on the lower back increases dramatically when lifting or holding something out and away from your body.
  • Keep your core muscles strong. The muscles in your trunk are responsible for keeping your back and spine in the proper position, at rest and during movement. Abdominal exercises, Pilates classes, stretching and physical therapy are just some of the ways to maintain and improve your strength and muscle tone.
  • Take Supplements. Proper nutrition including supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, Vitamin D, and antioxidants can help give your body the building blocks it needs to stay healthy and keep doing what you love*

For more on the back, and other joints, check out the Healthy Joints section at

Remember to talk with your doctor or health care provider before starting a new exercise program.