The spinal column runs down the middle of your back and contains the spinal cord, which is like a superhighway of nerves that connect your brain to every tissue in your body. Needless to say, the health of your spine is of paramount importance. From the lateral or side view, your spine contains three main curves, which are needed for flexibility and stability. However, viewing your spine from the back, it should be straight and not deviate from side-to-side very much at all. Some people are born with abnormally curved spines, but ill health, poor posture and inadequate nutrition are more responsible for spinal pathology.
- Try not to cross your legs or feet when you sit because it makes your hips unlevel and puts strain on your lower back.
- Make sure your computer screen is at eye level and centered in front of your chair, otherwise you’ll strain your neck and possible develop an abnormal curvature.
Wear quality shoes.
Your feet are crucial for good posture because they are the foundation for your entire body. As such, wear sturdy shoes with with our Super Feet Orthotics (available for sale here), a slightly raised heel (1/2 – 3/4 of an inch) and plenty of room for your toes. In contrast, avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes because they affect the body’s center of gravity and induce compensatory alignment of the entire body — they can cause too much extension (called hyperthyroidism) in the lumbar spine.
- If you are really heavy, have flat feet or a short leg, then consider getting orthotics (custom made shoe inserts). Orthotics promote a healthy spine by supporting the arches and allowing better bio-mechanics when running or walking.
- Orthotics are made by podiatrists, medical specialists and some chiropractors.
Here at the clinic we can also do custom made orthotics for you
Exercise and be more active.
Moderate exercise has many health benefits, including weight loss and increased muscle strength, which both positively impact the spine. Carrying too much weight puts excessive pressure on spinal joints, making them more susceptible to wearing out and becoming misaligned. In addition, stronger muscles keep bones and joints within their normal positions. Weight training is a great way to build stronger muscles, but be careful not to overwork certain muscle groups while ignoring their counterparts because that can lead to poor posture. Consult with a personal trainer if you’re unsure of how to train properly.
- Every morning when you wake up, turn on your back and slowly do “snow angels” with your arms and legs for 3-5 minutes. The motions are great for warming up and lightly stretching many muscles important for keeping your spine aligned.
- Using the rowing machine at the gym will strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blades and promote better upper body posture.
Pilates and yoga are other exercises that stretch and balance your body, especially the core muscles (abdomen, pelvis, low back), which form the foundation of good posture.
- The best sleeping position for your spine is laying on your side, with your hips and knees slightly bent, and with a small pillow wedged between your thighs, which helps to keep your hips aligned also.
- Try not to prop your head up with too many pillows while in bed reading because it will strain your neck and possibly reverse it’s normal lordosis (curve).
Intake the necessary nutrients.
To maintain strong, straight and healthy bones, certain nutrients are needed. Minerals such as calcium, magnesium and boron form the mineral matrix of bone and a deficiency of these can lead to bones that are too brittle and susceptible to fractures (known as osteoporosis). Vitamin D is also essential for bone health, and a lack of it leads to bones that are too soft and easily deformable (known as rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults).
- Vitamin D is produced by your skin when it’s exposed to intense summer sunshine.
- The recommended dietary intake for calcium is 1,000 – 1,200 mg daily, depending on your age. The best natural sources of calcium are collards, kale, spinach, sardines, tofu, almonds and sesame seeds.