Chiropractic and spinal health are closely associated. Often when you have a spinal complaint it is a good thing to see your chiropractor. However, most often people don’t know what is healthy and good for your spine on a day to day basis. What can we do for our spine when we aren’t seeing our chiropractor?
The number one thing we can do for our spinal health is improve your posture! I often tell patients that good posture to your chiropractor is what brushing your teeth is to your dentist. Keeping good posture is going to decrease the amount of time and money you spend at your chiropractor’s office. Just like many of us were told as we grew up, we need to sit up (and stand up) straight! Just like doing lots of push ups makes our arms strong, sitting up straight keeps our spinal muscles strong and healthy! Plus in my opinion people who have good posture just look confident, healthy, and ready for action! Don’t put your spine in a vulnerable position! Lifting objects that are too heavy is an obvious no no. Especially lifting with a twisting motion. Lifting and twisting puts the spine in a very vulnerable position. Of course if you have done your best to to keep your posture up and build a healthy spine, you are probably able to handle an occasional awkward motion.
Another good habit is to sleep on your back or side and with your spine as straight as it can be. Sleeping on your stomach with your head turned can stress the neck throughout the night. Of course good sleep is important to our health too, so don’t miss out on substantial sleep to keep your spine perfectly straight.
Don’t spend too much time in a stressful position. People who have desk jobs are very common visitors to the chiropractic office. If you do sit at a desk for your job, there is still hope. For starters just keeping your posture up you can hold off on many spinal problems. However, if you are at your desk for eight hours and tend let your posture suffer, try to get up every fifteen minutes or so to take a walk and do some basic stretching. If your job doesn’t allow you to walk around, every so often take some time to sit up straight, take a few breaths, and stretch your arms, head, and neck backwards.Speaking of desk jobs, they are a common contributor of the dreaded “forward head posture”. This is when we allow our heads and necks to fall forward and down. A few hours of this posture is one thing, but if it becomes a habit it will become your new normal posture. And this posture is not good. In 2004 there was a study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society that showed a 1.44 rate of increased mortality if you have a “hyperkyphotic posture”. So not only is your spine stressed, but chances of death actually increase if your neck and head posture are bad! If you do have this forward head posture there is still hope. Your posture can change however it will take some time and work!
Beyond all these specific subjects, it is important to simply stay healthy overall to keep your spine healthy. This includes eating healthy, plenty of exercise, and plenty of sleep. All of these habits are simply general considerations and if you have specific questions please consult your chiropractor or like health provider.
Dr. Ryan Spurgeon, DC, BCAO
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