Healthier Spine, Happier Life

Photography provided by Mayfield Brain & Spine

When it comes to healthy habits, most of us never consider taking care of our spine until something goes wrong and changes the way we live. Everyday activities that we often take for granted – walking, sitting and sleeping – can drastically change after a spine injury.

Luckily, Mayfield Brain & Spine has developed the Spine Athlete program that outlines the steps to keep spines healthy and prevent injury.

“The old adage is true: ‘Prevention is the best medicine,’ ” says Dr. Marc Orlando of Mayfield Brain & Spine. “Putting effort toward having a healthy back when you are young or free of injury will help you stay ahead of the game. However, if you are undergoing treatment for acute back pain or even facing surgery, it’s not too late to start thinking like a Spine Athlete.”

Mayfield Brain & Spine treats more than 20,000 patients with spine diseases or disorders and back pain each year, so its team can speak confidently from experience. Seventy percent of those patients are treated for spinal problems.

“We’re really fortunate to have some of the best neurosurgical spine surgeons, physical medicine specialists, rehabilitation specialists and pain management specialists in the country to treat our Cincinnati-area patients,” says Dr. Orlando.

Developed by Mayfield’s teams of physicians and physical therapists, the Spine Athlete program means adopting a healthy lifestyle, exercising and stretching regularly and keeping your body’s core in shape. Core muscles in the abdomen and back help support your spine and are key to keeping your spine healthy.

“In terms of exercise, we recommend a mixture of strengthening exercises with stretching and aerobic exercise,” says Dr. Orlando.

In addition to the basic exercises focused on core strengthening, specific regimens can be designed for patients.

Living a healthy lifestyle is also a cornerstone of good spine health.

“A healthy diet, being tobacco-free, moderate alcohol consumption and good sleeping habits are all helpful,” says Dr. Orlando. “Maintaining a proper posture while sitting, standing and walking can take pressure off of your back. Avoid reckless, high-impact behavior and lifting heavy objects. All of these things will go a long way toward maintaining a healthy back.”

And if back problems do occur and the need for surgery arises, people who have lived a healthy lifestyle face fewer risks than those who haven’t.

“Whenever you operate on someone, it puts stress on the body,” says Dr. Orlando. “When a patient is overweight, a heavy smoker or has an illness such as diabetes, the risk of complications always increases. Specifically, this subset of patients has a higher risk of infection, poor healing and slower return to normal function.

“The healthier you are, the lower the risk of complications. It’s as simple as that.”

Not all Mayfield patients have surgery.

“We have physicians who specialize in more conservative, noninvasive treatments such as medical pain management, braces or activity modification,” says Dr. Orlando. “We also perform EMGs (electromyography) to determine the type and extent of nerve or muscle damage and have specialists who offer a variety of procedures that involve injections that target a very specific area.”


For more information about the Spine Athlete program, call 800.325.7787 or visit