Spinal Wellness Tips for Every Day
For many of us, spinal wellness isn’t even a thought until we begin to feel pain. It’s only after our backs begin to ache and necks become sore that we consider how we can be kinder to our spine.
You’d be surprised to learn that even daily activities such as sitting and sleeping can cause back pain and joint stiffness. If you want to keep your spine in proper alignment – and keep pain at bay – the team at ChiroCare of Florida suggests you keep these spinal wellness tips in mind.
1. When Sitting at a Desk
As if the nagging pain in your neck and lower back wasn’t enough of a hint, it’s been medically proven that our body’s were not designed to sit at a 90-degree angle for 8 hours a day. So, if school or work cause you to stay seated for most of the day, these tips are essential to your spinal wellness. For one, make sure to get up and stretch every 30 minutes to give your spine a chance to decompress.
Find a chair that offers adequate lower back support and will support the natural curvature of the spine. When seated, you should be able to plant your feet firmly on the floor. If you can’t do this, bring in a small stool to place your feet on. Move your computer screen to eye level so that you are not tilting your neck up or down to look at it.
For more tips on keeping your desk space ergonomic, read more here.
2. If Standing for Long Periods
The lower back bears a brunt of our weight when we are standing. To alleviate this pressure, keep one foot slightly in front of the other and keep your knees slightly bent while standing. Keeping the knees locked and completely straight will only stress the joints and irritate the lower back even further. Additionally, keep your shoulders slightly pulled back and your chin up.
Your choice of shoes will play an important role in your spinal wellness, as well as your overall posture. If your feet are too flat or tend to roll out, your hips can be forced out of alignment.
For the do’s and don’ts of footwear, read more here.
3. When Lifting Heavy Objects
Some of the most common injuries, including herniated discs and pulled muscles, occur due to incorrect lifting form. To avoid injury and keep your spine healthy, start by squatting down to the object with one foot slightly in front of the other. Keep your back straight, and bend and lift from the knees and hips – never from the lower back. Avoid twisting while lifting at all times.
4. While Resting or Relaxing
Binge-watching your favorite show is all fun and games until it hurts to get up from the couch. You wouldn’t think relaxing has much to do with your spinal wellness, but keeping your body in an unnatural position for too long can create sore joints and muscles just like exercise can. Much like sitting for a long period of time, be sure to stand and stretch every 30 minutes or so. Prop a pillow underneath your head or under your knees to keep the spine straight while lounging.
5. For Sleeping
The easiest to follow spinal wellness tip when you’re drifting off to sleep is to never sleep in a position that causes a portion of your back to hurt. For what that means for you, check out the best sleeping position for your body. Generally speaking, avoid sleeping on your stomach and opt to sleep on your back or side instead. Placing a pillow under your knees while lying on your back will cut the pressure on your spine roughly in half, and lying on your side with a pillow between your knees may also reduce the pressure on your back.
6. If Reaching and Bending
Just like lifting, reaching and bending should all happen at the hips and knees level. When reaching for something, stand on a stool as opposed to straining your shoulder – this can injure your mid-back and neck. When bending, always bend at the knees or kneel on one knee. Whatever you do, do not bend over at the waist to pick up something from the floor – your back will thank you later.
7. When Using the Phone
Smartphone or office phone, they can both do some serious damage to the spine. Smartphones have brought on the newest age of spinal injury: tech neck. To avoid this phenomenon, bring your arms up in front of your face so you don’t need to tilt your neck down to see your screen when texting or scrolling. Never hold your cellphone or office phone between your ear and shoulder, this will increase shoulder strain. Opt for wearing a headset instead.
8. Warming up for Physical Activity
One of the easiest ways to hurt yourself is by not properly warming up before physical activity. Whether you will be walking, taking a yoga class, or working out at the gym, a warm up is crucial to awaken the muscles and joints. Stretching is also important for your daily life, whether or not you’re exercising. So, keep in mind that you don’t need to plan a trip to the gym to fit in a stretch session. Try these stretches to get started.
9. For Diet & Lifestyle Choices
Your diet, water intake, level of physical activity, and smoking or drinking habits all have a drastic impact on your spinal wellness. Stay away from foods high in sugars and that are overly-processed. Instead, aim for fresh foods and a diet full of leafy greens, hydrating fruits, and vegetables and spices packed with anti-inflammatory compounds to help pain. Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
Limit alcohol consumption and eliminate smoking – both of these factors can exacerbate pain and inflammation in the body. Try to get in at a least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Start small, like by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking a bit farther than usual to get some extra steps in the parking lot.
10. Before Your Chiropractor Appointment
Before your first chiropractor appointment, you want your body to be in a state that will accept the manual manipulations your chiropractor will make. Eat a light meal or snack that’s high in protein and drink plenty of water. Hydration is crucial for overall spinal health, but proper hydration will also allow for muscle support after adjustments are made. Likewise, a short walk will loosen up the spine for an easier adjustment.
Did these tips come a bit too late? If you’re experiencing neck or back pain, listen to your body, you need to do something to help. Visit a ChiroCare of Florida near you to get your spinal wellness back on track. Contact us today to get started.