The human body is a set of inextricably interconnected systems and processes. When one suffers and struggles to fulfill its specialized function, a ripple effect often damages other areas of the body as well.
This is particularly true when it comes to the spine, which contains the central nervous system, the entire body’s communication hub. Its well-being is essential for the body’s overall health!
Unfortunately, according to statistics from the National Institutes of Health, as much as 80% of people will struggle with low back pain during their life. Because of the spine’s importance and people’s predisposition to back pain, it is essential to take good care of your spine by following some simple yet powerful spine health guidelines!
Spinal Structure and Potential Complications
The spine comprises twenty-four vertebrae (i.e., small bones) separated by discs, with the spinal cord running up the middle. Over time, as a person’s body undergoes injuries and the physical demands of everyday life — such as moving furniture or sitting for long periods — increase, the spine can undergo a myriad of injuries, such as:
- Slipped discs;
- Osteoarthritis (i.e., worn-down cartilage);
- Kyphosis (i.e., where the spine bends forward).
Below are six simple tips to keep your spine healthy for a long, healthy, and comfortable life!
How To Have a Healthy Spine
Make a Habit Out of Good Posture
Many people spend numerous sedentary hours in an office chair, prompting an increase in spinal disc pressure — up to 40%. Over time, particularly when poor posture becomes a habit, the extra stress on the discs can cause them to herniate (i.e., when the soft inside of a disc sticks out from its tough outer casing).
To give your spinal discs the best chance at longevity, make a habit out of good sitting posture by taking the time to prioritize office ergonomics. You may also want to invest in a stand-up desk or exercise ball, a much healthier work setup for your spine health.
Frequent Breaks Promote a Healthy Spine
Taking frequent breaks to stand up or go on a short walk is another way to support better spine health when seated for long periods of time. Walking is particularly beneficial, as it not only prevents the spine’s health from degrading but actively supports it by strengthening the core, thus increasing flexibility and improving bone structure.
Stretching is another worthwhile activity to incorporate into work breaks. Maintaining a healthy spine and increasing spinal flexibility ensures that joints function properly and have a full range of motion. It is also preventative, helping decrease the risk of a back injury.
Regular Exercise Is a Must
While it is important to take breaks that involve standing, stretching, and walking, that is not sufficient. Regular exercise is essential for spinal health. Even a simple routine can help ensure the spinal structure receives essential nutrients, reducing inflammation to expedite healing, and strengthening muscles, ligaments, and joints, so they are less prone to injury.
Regular physical activity can take many forms. Some people prefer low-impact types of exercise, such as biking or swimming. Pool-based activities are beneficial, as the water’s buoyancy and reduced friction decrease joint stress and support the spine. Some places even offer water therapy programs to soothe muscles and promote spinal health with simple exercises in warm water.
Weight lifting is an equally viable form of exercise, so long as the proper form is maintained to avoid muscle strains or ruptured spinal discs. When performing an exercise such as a deadlift, remember to keep your back straight, bending your knees to reach the weight and lift it. Many use the language of leading with your hips to emphasize that proper lifting form incorporates more than just one’s legs, knees, and arms.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Everyday exercise also supports another tip for a happy spine: maintaining a healthy weight. Weight above the healthy amount for one’s age and stature places undue stress on the spinal column, often causing lower back pain.
A well-balanced, healthy diet will help you sustain a healthy weight and supply your bones and joints with essential nutrients and vitamins. Avoiding processed foods while choosing meals that are high in calcium and antioxidants can help prevent problems such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Be Mindful of Your Sleeping Position
Besides working, the average adult spends a substantial number of hours a day sleeping. During this time, the spine must be given time to rest, heal, and decompress.
There are two primary ways to ensure that your spine gets the rejuvenation it needs while you sleep:
- Procuring the right mattress;
- Using a pillow to properly align the spine.
As mattresses age, they become soft and flimsy, failing to provide proper support, which is why a mildly firm or firm mattress is a much better alternative.
Depending on your sleeping position, the right head pillow will support your neck and place the spine in the proper position. Additional pillow support can help maintain the spine’s natural curvature — a pillow between the legs for side sleepers and one under the knees for those who sleep on their backs.
Turn to Massage Therapy for Pain Relief
Another beneficial habit that can be applied less often, but is still worth pursuing, is massage therapy. Massages performed by expert therapists help increase blood circulation, relax sore muscles, and boost endorphin levels. Also, they expedite healing and decrease pain.
In a 2001 study conducted at the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, researchers found that massages improved the range of motion while lessening lower back pain, depression, and anxiety.
There are many types of massage therapy, and their usefulness depends on the patient, situation, and pain that needs to be relieved. However, the following options are a few of the most commonly pursued massage therapy types for those seeking to mitigate back pain:
- Swedish Massage: Helps alleviate minor back pain and muscle tension.
- Deep-Tissue Massage: Good for people suffering from muscle soreness, injuries, and chronic muscle pain.
- Trigger Point Massage: Generally focuses on particular areas of the body suffering from tight muscles.
- Shiatsu Massage: For those struggling with back and neck pain, arthritis, sprains, sciatica, and chronic stress.
Improve Your Spine Health at Bergen Chiropractic!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 298-7179 or (201) 357-6539 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601 are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!