Do you suffer from aching back pain, nagging neck pain or even headaches? Having a healthy spine can prevent these types of problems. Your spine is a complicated structure of vertebrae, discs, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. Every second of every day your spine is moving in a delicate balance, even while you breathe! Take care of it and it will take care of you.
Here are useful tips on how to have a healthy spine:
Nutrition is critical to having a healthy body. The same goes for your spine. Protein
rebuilds spinal muscle tissue, ligaments and tendons. Healthy fruits and vegetables
contain the vitamins and antioxidants to make the spine function. They rebuild bone,
muscle and connective tissues that are constantly being used throughout the day.
Throughout the day your spine is compressed with standing, sitting and bending. You can actually lose about ½ an inch over the course of a day. Adequate rest in a good position while sleeping helps you maintain a healthy spine. It is ideal to start off lying in bed for the first 10 minutes on your side with your knees curled up. This allows the discs in your spine to rehydrate. Then continue sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs or roll onto your back with a pillow under your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Many studies show that nicotine in cigarettes directly accelerates the breakdown of the discs in the spine and destroys connective tissues that keep the joints moving properly. In addition, nicotine increases the inflammatory response in the body, disrupting the body’s natural ability to repair itself.
Improve Your Flexibility and Strength
One of the best ways to avoid back pain or neck pain is to improve your spinal flexibility and strength. Your spine and body are designed to move. Keep your spine flexible by stretching for 10 minutes every day. It is best to get up and move around when possible at work. Stretch your spine out by reaching overhead and leaning over to one side, then the other. Also, work on gently twisting at the waist and don’t forget to stretch your hamstring muscles frequently. Spend 3-4 days a week working on your core strength with abdominal muscle exercises, squats and other exercises to keep your spine and core muscles strong. This supports your spine and allows you to move without stressing the discs or nerves in your back.
Improve Your Posture and Balance
Make sure that you sit properly with a straight-backed chair and your feet flat on
the floor. Avoid sitting on very soft couches for prolonged periods as this keeps your
spine in a flexed position. Make sure that you keep your spine straight when lifting,
using your legs and avoiding twisting. Keep your balance tip-top to activate the small muscles of the spine and use your nervous system. Enhance your balance by standing on one leg at a time for 10 seconds 3-4 times a week.
Have a Spine Check-up
Have a physical therapist spine specialist check your spine alignment and function
every 6 months to ensure your back is moving how it should. Our physical therapists are the medical experts in helping your back operate as it should and relieving back pain or neck pain quickly.
If you are suffering with backaches and pains, come in for a check-up sooner rather than later. Long term aches and pains can mean permanent damage is being done to your spine. Catching back pain or neck pain early leads to a healthy spine for life!
Now try these 5 natural ways to relieve your sciatica:
Improve your posture
One of the long-term causes of sciatica is poor posture. Make sure that you have a lumbar support in your work chair and in your car that you can take with you to different places. Look at the way your computer and desk area is setup. Avoid soft couches and recliners. Physical therapists are experts in ergonomics and can teach you the proper posture setup for workstations and home activities.
Change your position frequently
Sitting puts direct pressure on the sciatic nerve. Therefore, it is important to change positions frequently. Consider getting an adjustable standing desk if you have to spend most of your day sitting at a computer. If you are suffering from sciatica, try lying down for 10 minutes, standing for 10 minutes and sitting for 10 minutes. Rotate this throughout the day as much as you can.
Magnesium is thought to sooth irritated nerves and many of us have magnesium deficiencies. Try a good magnesium and calcium supplement to soothe pain. However, if you are on medications, consult your physician first.
Improve your hip strength and flexibility
The gluteal muscles support the normal walking motions we perform everyday. They become weak and tight with prolonged sitting, especially at a desk job. This causes severe strain on the smaller hip muscles around the sciatic nerve, when walking or standing.
Get your body mechanics checked
Most of us do not realize that we have made an adaptation in our normal movements, because of limited joint motion or muscle weakness. Our body is amazing at adapting to problems, however, it can only do this for so long, until abnormal strain and stress occurs. Having a thorough biomechanical movement analysis by one of our trained physical therapists, will pinpoint the exact problem that is causing your sciatica. This allows us to formulate a treatment plan that will help you naturally restore your movement, function and quickly relieve your pain.
For more information on how you can avoid low back pain and sciatica, call Marketplace Wellness Center today to speak with one of our physical therapy experts. We can put the spring back in your step and restore your ability to move pain free.