You only get one spine, so take care of it.
The spine is made up of 33 segments when you are born and as you grow some of them fuse leading to most adults having 26 segments called vertebrae. As you go through life your decisions influence how healthy your spine is and will be in the future. Poor posture, lifestyle, hobbies, and habits all have negative effects. Here are some simple tips to prevent poor spinal health.
Phones- Keep your phone at eye level as much as possible when using it, and don’t use your shoulder to talk on the phone
Why? Because every inch that your head leans forward is an extra pound of pressure added to you neck, which already holds your 8-10 pound head. Then using the shoulder to hold your phone creates extra stress on the neck, upper back, and shoulders.
Mattress/Sleeping Position- Making sure the bed is just right
Why? Beds that are to firm can cause extra pressure on the body leading to tight muscles and pain. Beds that are to soft can lead to laxity and awkward positions for the body. So when looking for a bed try out different ones to see which one is just right.
Why? When you get stressed out your muscles become tight, and when muscles become tight they begin pulling on the vertebrae, which leads to pain. The nerves may then become impinged and cause headaches or numbness in the arms and legs.
Computers- Keep the screen at eye level and keyboard at hip height.
Why? Having the screen above or below your eye level creates pressure on your neck that may lead to headaches and other upper body muscular pains. While keeping the keyboard parallel to your forearms, and forearms 90 degrees to the upper arm, helps relieve pressure on nerves and keeps shoulder musculature neutral. Preventing pinching and irritation of nerve roots leaving the neck.
Pillows- Keep the head level when sleeping
Why? When sleeping on your back and the head is flexed forward you are straining the little neck muscles at the base of you head, which lead to headaches and other muscular aches. While lying on your back without proper support you may be jamming the backs of your vertebrae together which may pinch nerves and cause pain or numbness. When lying on your side, either too much or to little side bending of the neck puts extra strain on the neck musculature, resulting in pain and discomfort.
High Heels- NO HEELS, unless for a short period of time.
Why? Even small heels can cause the center of gravity to change within the body creating extra pressure on the leg muscles, bones, and joints that hold everything upright and in place. If heels are worn enough if may even create a small hump or hunch in the upper back. However if you insist on looking good, I mean wearing heels, try not to be in them all night dancing or walking long distances.
Don’t sit for too long- Get up and move every 20-30 minutes to get motion back into joints and muscles
Why? Sitting creates extra pressure on the spine and also shortens muscles. When muscles become shortened or tight they can create spinal problems. Even simple movements like walking around will help combat the aspects of sitting.
Self-Adjusting– Just STOP!
Why? Even though it feels good for a bit when you self adjust or have someone else give you a big hug and crack your back doesn't mean the problem is fixed. All you're doing is making the joint hypermobile or move more than normal. Hypermobility leads to instability and will overtime lead to more problems because the level that is actually stuck never gets fixed.
Diet (Internal)- Be conscious of what you fuel your body with, eat more fruits and veggies and less fast and processed foods
Why? Healthier food choices help the body stay and function in peak condition. Along with key nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and many more that help the body and spine stay healthy. Leading to the body not having to work as hard to compensate for clogged arties or a slow moving digestive system when unhealthier foods are eaten.
TV Timeouts- Commercials do have a purpose, get up and move
Why? Sitting and watching TV at night or on the weekends only adds to the hours of sitting you do in a week. This once again creates imbalances that may lead to pain overtime, so get up and do a simple activity during the commercials. Otherwise you may become a couch potato.
Exercise- Movement is what the body is designed to do, and it helps speed up the healing process for many aliments
Why? Lack of motion or being sedentary weakens and shortens muscles that are usually active and engaged. Thus leading to possibility of re-injury or loss of motion, flexibility, and muscle tone. So try and be active for 20-30 minutes even if its broken up into smaller times.
Carrying correctly- Put the purse or duffle bag strap across the body and both straps on shoulders for back packs.
Why? Having all the weight of the purse or duffle bag on one shoulder even if it seems light creates an imbalance in the spine. Leading to tight and irritated muscles that are converted into problems and pain in the upper back and neck.
Using both straps for backpacks help keep the shoulders level and neutral which correctly distributes the weight evenly. Leading to improved posture with carrying objects and reduces the chance of causing tight muscles and pain.
Lifting correctly- Bend with the knees and tilt objects on there sides to get a better grip. Squeeze those glutes, tighten your core, and don’t lift with a jerky or twisting motion.
Why? Incorrect loading of the spine can lead to a sprain or strain injury. While twisting motions put extra pressure on the discs and nerves which can cause them to herniate or become irritated.
Standing Posture- “STAND UP STRAIGHT” is what your parents always said, and they were right!
Why? The body is most balanced when looking at someone from their side when the head is in line with the shoulders, not leaning forward or extended back. The shoulders are balanced when they are in line with the hips, not rolled forward or pulled back. The hips should be a little behind the knees, and in line with the ankles. Make sure that when you are standing to have a slight bend in the knees so you are not hyperextended and constantly stretching the posterior knee muscles. This balanced posture helps reduce the stresses of gravity and your weight on the body.
Ignoring Pain- The problem doesn’t go away just because the pain does.
Why? The body is great at adopting new positions; but this isn’t always good. The problem or chronic pain does not go away without correction or realignment, it only goes into hiding and resurfaces later causing the same if not more pain. This lengthens the recovery time and keeps you from enjoying life.
Stretching- Should be like breathing
Why? Keeping muscles loose helps them relax and function correctly. When muscles become tight they tear, fray, or pull on the objects they are connected to, leading to pain. Stretching helps prevent shortening of tight muscles and lengthening of non activated muscles. The hamstrings are probably the best example, when these are tight they pull on the pelvis and cause a lot of low back pain.
Carrying correctly- Carry the appropriate amount, don't overload the body
Why? Carrying to much weight can throw off your center of gravity leading to possible sprains or strains along with muscle imbalances.
Fat Wallet Syndrome- Take out unnecessary items and DON’T sit on your wallet
Why? Sitting on your wallet creates uneven hips leading to the potential for pain that feels sharp or stabbing due to the pelvis being pushed or rotated against the lower back vertebrae. Muscles are also involved which cause a dull or achy pain from the hips being unbalanced, pulled, and stretched.
Chewing- Chew with your mouth closed
Why? Excessive open mouth chewing puts extra strain on the muscles of the jaw and mouth. This extra pressure can lead to the skull and vertebrae becoming stuck or subluxated in incorrect positions leading to other neck pain, headaches, or migraines.
Diet (External)- Maintain a healthy weight
Why? Extra weight puts more pressure on the bones, joints, and ligaments throughout the entire body. Leading to faster degeneration and a higher likelihood of arthritis.