The spine is the backbone of the healthy, optimally functioning body, so keeping it strong is essential to good health.
Contrary to common belief, back exercises are not the only way to keep your spine healthy. As all muscles in the body work in complementary systems, a strong core is mainly responsible for a safe back. Additionally, lifestyle changes and habits have a huge impact on the spine.
Try these simple, chiropractor-recommended ways to strengthen your spine
- Make exercise your lifestyle. Exercise can be more in motion than the daily trip to the gym. Thread habits into your daily routine that work strengthening and stretching the hamstrings, abdominal and back muscles.
- Think about what you eat. Everything you put in your body affects your body. Whenever possible, limit foods to those found naturally in nature and avoid anything processed. Some foods are healthy for the spine, specifically those with high calcium and vitamin content.
- Evaluate how you sit. Along the spine, we have sensitive spinal nerves that can be damaged if we don’t maintain good posture that supports our natural curves. You don’t need to sit identically to your peers, but you do need to sit with a disciplined posture that compliments your spinal curves.
- Meditate. At first, meditating might not feel great. Overtime and in small increments of improvement, it will become easier to sit, to focus on calm, positive imagery and eventually to sit and talk erectly naturally and without pain.
- Exercise in the water. Water eliminates the force of gravity, making it easier to exercise without the stress of extra force on the body.
- Take walks. Walking strengthens the core, which directly works to keep the spine erect with little effort, allowing all fluids to travel as necessary. Walking is a low impact exercise, but if you have sustained a back injury, ask your chiropractor to sign off on the exercise.
- Lift weights safely. Weightlifting can be extremely beneficial to the body when executed properly. The way you lift weights can make your back stronger (and keep your spine safe), or it can compromise the body. Keep your chest forward as you bend your knees and lead with the hips, not the shoulders.
- Opt for massage therapy whenever possible. Some types of back pain can be alleviated through massage, as the treatment soothes sore muscles and improves blood circulation. Getting consistent massages improves long-term spinal range and health, so even if you are not experiencing back pain or injury, massages have a wealth of health benefits to your body.
- If you smoke, quit! Smoking causes damage to the spinal disc and joint vascular structures, leading to degenerative spinal disorders.
- Use heat therapy to soothe the pain. Use a heating pad or wrap on the areas around your spine (especially around those areas with pain). The heat will increase blood flow, making it easier for necessary nutrients to serve the targeted, painful areas.
- Position your pillow for your sleep. Everybody has a different natural curve in their neck, so everybody needs to sleep a bit differently. Determine your natural curve and find a pillow that accommodates the sleeping style. You might want to ask your chiropractor for recommendations to make sure you are sleeping safely.