5 Ways to Keep Your Spine Healthy and Moving Well
The spine is composed of 24 vertebrae that are connected by 23 discs. The discs act as shock absorbers, give the spine its shape and strengthen it. In total, the spine has 364 joints and is surrounded by 15 muscles. To keep the spine moving and feeling well, it is important to keep all the joints and muscles of the spine and surrounding the spine healthy.
Did you know? Core muscle strength is important for maintaining a healthy spine. Keep your spine in shape with these tips.
1. Work Your Core Muscles
The core muscles include
- Hip muscles
- Back muscles
Supporting the spine on all sides is important to help avoid pain due to muscle imbalances. A combination of lower abdominal, hip abduction, hip extension, and superman exercises are a few examples that can be appropriate to keep your spine strong. It is best to consult your physical therapist to see which exercises are best for you to keep a healthy spine.
2. Don’t forget about your posture when seated
It is important to have a great home-work set up during these times. Today, more people are doing virtual activities for work, school, or meetings. We are spending more time on our phones, laptops, and computers. These hours add up and making sure that you have the best possible setup to decrease the amount of stress/tension on the spine will be helpful. It is important to get up and move every 45-60 minutes. Some tips for your posture while sitting include even weight between both sits bones (ischial tuberosities), feet flat on the ground, knees should be slightly lower than your hips (adjust your chair if able), elbows at 90 degrees for typing, computer/laptop directly in front of you, the computer screen should be at eye level and avoid jutting your head forward (try and keep your head over your shoulders).
3. Footwear matters
Shoes play an important role in the stresses placed on the spine and help keep your body in alignment whether you’re exercising, standing, or walking to where you need to be next. Make sure the shoes you wear offer the correct support for your feet. A good fit will prevent overpronation or supination (too much rolling the foot to the inside or outside). This can cause the whole leg to move in/out thus causing stress on the spine. Over time, this can irritate muscles, bones, or nerves and create unwanted pain.
4. How to sleep
A restful night’s sleep is important to help your body repair itself. For most people, a firm to medium mattress is best to provide some support to the spine. Keeping your spine aligned by placing a pillow under the knees for back sleepers can take tension off of the spine. For side sleepers, placing a pillow between the knees and a pillow under the head/neck to support the curvature of the spine can reduce stress. Typically, sleeping on the stomach isn’t advised due to increased stress on the spine over time that can cause pain.
5. Preventative care
Performing some daily stretches, strengthening, and walking exercises can help keep your spine healthy. Sometimes treating yourself to a massage that will increase blood flow, loosen tight muscles, and increase relaxation are needed. Stress can also cause pain throughout your body. Relieving stress with some mediation can also keep you healthier.
One of the best ways to keep the spine healthy is to preventatively work on flexibility and strength. Work with a spine Physical Therapist who can help develop a program right for you keep your spine feeling and moving well.