Do's and Don'ts for a Healthy Spine
You probably don't pay it much attention, but your spine is the part of your body which holds the show together.
Comprising thirty-three individual bones stacked on top of each other, the spine provides the main support for your skeletal system while housing and protecting the central nervous system of your body, the vitally important spinal cord.
Allowing you to stand and sit, bend and twist, a healthy spine is something which is essential to living an active life. Nothing impedes your quality of movement like a sore back, so maintaining the muscles and ligaments which surround the spine is essential to ensuring your fitness and mobility. Here are a few dos and don'ts for helping keep this important part of your body in good shape.
Don't sit it out
One of the worst things for the lumbar region – or lower back – is extended periods of sitting down. The discs in your lower spine take three times more pressure when you sit than when you stand, so try to break up long stretches of sitting by standing up and moving around. Pay extra attention to your posture when you are working at the computer, as slouching can be a real killer for the neck and shoulder areas that connect to the spine.
Don't underestimate the importance of a supportive mattress and pillow in maintaining a healthy spine. Saggy, uneven mattresses are bad news for this crucial area and can actually end up doing damage to your back! Select a mattress and pillow that will support your spine while you sleep. It pays to take into account the way you sleep to choose the right mattress for your sleeping position. Did you know that unless you have the correct support, sleeping on your stomach can put extra pressure on your spine? Where possible, try to sleep on your back or your side to allow your spine the best rest.
Don't let your shoes let you down
Your choice of shoe can affect your whole body, spine included. It's really important to consider how much support the heel of your shoe offers: it should fit snugly and prevent against pronation or supination, where the feet roll too far in or out. If you find that you consistently wear out one side of your shoe or sole, it may be worth investigating whether your feet could benefit from orthotics to help keep your spine in alignment.
Stretch and move
One of the best things you can do for a healthy spine is to stay active. A routine which combines stretching, flexibility, strengthening and aerobic activity is essential for working all the muscles which help support your spine. Exercise also helps you to stay in shape, as excess weight can throw the alignment of your spine out and put extra stress on your lower back. Add a regular massage after exercise to help your muscles to relax, while also promoting blood flow and repair in this crucial area.
Your spine is essential for your participation in a healthy, active life. Keep your spine happy, and it will serve you well for years to come!