How do I take care of my spine?
Taking proper care of your spine is not a well known or common practice like taking care of your teeth. Taking care of your teeth is pretty straight forward floss, brush, and get checked and cleaned by a Dentist. In this post I will demystify and educate you on how to properly take care of your spine.
The 4 Essentials of Spinal Care
Head and Neck Balance
4. Increase Activity
Activity is simply the amount of time you are moving your body. Activity can be anything from walking, running, yoga to grocery shopping and cleaning, anything where your body is in motion. Inactivity is anything where you are stationary like sitting, working at a desk or watching tv. If you inactive all day at work for 8 hours and go to the gym for 1 hour. That 1 hour of activity does not make up for the 8 hours of inactivity. When you are inactive your metabolism slows, blood does not move throughout your body as efficiently and joints are not lubricated and get stiff.
3. Hip Mobility
When we are inactive for long periods of time this leads to your joints getting stiff. One area specifically affected from long periods of sitting are your hip joints. When you sit for long periods of time your hips get stiff, when your hips get stiff your axis of movement now shifts to your low back and other parts of your spine. Your low back and spine are not designed for these types of movement.
2. Spinal Stability
Stability is the strength to stand or endure. Your spine made up of 24 individual bones or vertebrae stacked on top of each other. The design allows it to be flexible or firm depending on what is required. When you lift a weight you want your spine to be stable and when you run you want your spine to be mobile. Due to the nature of spine (a bunch of bones stacked on top of each other) it is going to tend toward mobility. This is why we have to actively work toward stability.
1. Head and Neck Balance
The most unique and vulnerable part of the spine is the delicate junction between the head and the neck. Your 8-14 pound head is sitting on a 3 ounce bone called the atlas. The atlas is held in place by small muscles and small ligaments. It has no discs above or below and no facet joints to keep it locked in place. Accidents and injuries can disrupt the delicate balance between the head and neck. When this happens the neck and the rest of the spine is forced into a stressed position in an attempt to keep the weight of your head over your center of gravity. Muscles become tight, movement is altered and your spine begins to breakdown at an accelerated rate due to the added stress.