Most people don’t give much thought to their spines or backs until something happens, and pain gets our attention every time!
Your spine houses the nerves, ligaments and muscles that connect to your entire body. One of the best things you can do for your overall well being is to keep your spine as healthy as possible.
Although some things like injury and genetics are out of our control to some degree, there are a number of simple preventative measures we can take to keep our spines strong, healthy, and flexible.
1. Targeted Exercise – One of the most important building blocks of overall spine health is performing exercises specifically targeted to your abdominals and pelvic girdle. By strengthening the muscles in these areas, you can help give good support to your spine, and minimize the chances of injury.
2. Sitting posture – Did you know that sitting puts three times more load weight on the discs in your spine than standing? Add to this the slouching or leaning forward that we sometimes do when sitting, and you’ve got ample reason for back pain and muscle tension. That’s why it’s important to practice and promote good posture that supports the natural curves of your spine. First, if you sit while working, invest in a good, ergonomic office chair. Then, sit up straight, with your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Don’t lean and don’t slouch! And be sure to get up to walk and stretch every half hour.
3. Sleep well – The best way to sleep to keep pressure off your spine is to lie on your side in the fetal position with your knees bent and a pillow tucked between your legs. This keeps your spine aligned and takes most of the stress off your back. If you are a back sleeper, be sure to place a pillow under your knees. If you’re a stomach sleeper, you should consider changing your sleeping position. Sleeping on your stomach exaggerates the arch at the base of your spine and causes strain on your lower back.
4. Walk in the right shoes -The type of shoes you wear makes a big difference in spine alignment and your overall back health. Make sure every pair of shoes you put on your feet are balanced, aligned, and comfortable. Never buy shoes that are too tight, or have heels that are relatively flat.
5. Avoid Osteoporosis – Fractures and “bowing” of the spine occur when osteoporosis occurs and remains untreated. Most prevalent in women after menopause, osteoporosis can be effectively treated, and more importantly, prevented. First, get plenty of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are readily available over the counter, but be sure to ask your doctor before starting any vitamin regimen. These are also available through dairy products, and direct sunlight is an excellent source of vitamin D. Be sure to eat lots of dark green leafy vegetables which contain boron, magnesium, folic acid and B-complex vitamins, which also help bones and many other body functions. Additionally, exercise is critical to promoting bone strength. Walking, gardening, and weight training are all terrific exercises.
A few simple changes in your lifestyle like the ones outlined above can make a world of difference in your overall spine health and well-being. Starting today, you can start building a future of well-being that can last a lifetime.