Why a healthy spine?
Of course, we all want to have healthy bodies in good, working order. But what is it about a healthy spine that is so appealing? A few may come to mind immediately. The spine, and in particular a healthy spine, is the framework for functionality throughout the entire body. It spans all systems and houses the power to move, think, and speak. If the spine breaks down, so does the rest of us.
Just like all high-performance hardware, the spine demands high maintenance. It takes a lot to keep it in good working order, and not much at all to fall into disrepair. We tune up every other part of our body with dedication, treating symptoms and pursuing the elusive “well-being.” Ironically, with our attention elsewhere, we far too often disregard this thing that gives life to all else. We forget to maintain a healthy spine.
What can I do?
There are several good practices that help build and maintain and strong and healthy spine. A full regimen of exercise isn’t the entire package, thankfully. A healthy spine develops through a combination of both exercise and healthy habits.
Here are seven tips that are both simple to do and create a healthy spine:
Sleep well. More than just a passing comment at the end of the night, to “sleep well” is a healthy habit that is excellent for the spine. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as this puts undue pressure on your spine. Sleeping on your side is the best position for your spine. Another way to keep your spine healthy while you sleep is to turn your mattress 90 degrees every so often. This ensures that your mattress wears evenly.
Lift with proper form. If you make it out to the gym or work out at home, bless you for your persistence. Staying active is paramount to keeping your spine healthy. The key, however, is proper form. When lifting a heavy object, stand as close to it as possible. Bend your knees, and lift with your legs. Your legs spend all day keeping the rest of your body up – they are designed to deal in heavy cargo. Your upper body and back are not equipped to do so.
Maintain good posture. Of course, this is easier said than done. When sitting, standing, and walking, a straight back is an excellent way to keep a healthy spine. If you sit in an office chair, be sure to sit with your feet flat on the ground. Practice sitting up, with your chest out. The more you are aware of this and practice it, the easier it will be to create a habit.
Stretch – all the time. There is a multitude of back stretches you can do to keep your spine in top shape. Always be sure to consult your doctor before making any stretch a part of your daily workout, as different stretches are suited for different body types. Two sets of stretches a day, once in the morning and once at night, encourage flexibility. This prevents the spine from overworking itself.
Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your body in general. As you do so, your joints retain fluidity and elasticity. It also keeps the protective padding around your spine supple and healthy. Dehydration, on the other hand, can cause the spinal discs to lose height and bulge or rupture.
Plan regular breaks at work. As often as your work allows, get up, stretch, and move around. Sitting stationary in one place leads to bad posture, which as we know, stresses the spine. Naturally, we want to lean forward when sitting at a desk. Otherwise, we slouch and lean too far back. Try keeping your knees close to a 90-degree angle when sitting. And on your lunch or other breaks, be sure to get up and move around.
Keep moving in general. Resist a sedentary lifestyle. Whether you walk, run, go to the gym, or are just working around the house, a key to maintaining a healthy spine and lifestyle is to stay active. You are not required to be a bodybuilder. Simply find ways to stay on your feet for a little longer each day. In the long run, exercise leads to a healthy weight that your body can manage. This lessens the stress on your spine and will help keep it healthy.
A healthy spine precedes a healthy life
Intense physical exertion and exercise are not essential to creating or maintaining a healthy spine. As you work on these seven simple tips, you will find just how much a healthy spine leads to a healthy life. Spinal nerves control the muscles and play into the function of the internal organs. The blood and glands are also dependent on the spine. A strong and healthy spine gives strength to the rest of the body.
For ideas for good stretches and at-home exercises, watch this slideshow.