Spine health is a top modern health concern for many of us. Your spine may be distorted or damaged due to habits from improper sitting, standing, or slouching. But not to worry! Most spine problems are fixable, and you can straighten your spine naturally at home.
The spine is essential to the central nervous system. An unhealthy spine can cause disruptions in other parts of your body or your whole system can produce numerous, unexpected symptoms such as pain, numbness, uncontrolled or painful extremities, difficulty breathing, impaired digestion, and more.
Nowadays, we slouch… a lot! At work, home, or play, many of us spend most of our time in front of a computer or smart screen. This is especially true of our younger generations. You’re reading this on a screen right now! The ugly truth is that screen use is one of the main causes of spinal problems today.
While most of us can find solutions to back pain by simply doing some of the exercises below at home, some spinal problems can be more complicated and you may want to schedule an appointment to compliment these exercises with chiropractic, physical therapy, or massage.
I. How To Straighten Your Back And Spine – Simple Ways To Assess Your Posture
If you want to begin to correct your posture, we recommend doing the following: wear some form-fitting clothing or activewear and take 2 photos of your full body. One picture should be from the front and one picture should be from the side. Stand tall and relaxed with your feet hip-width apart. Have a look at your pics…
- If you can see your toes pointing outward by more than roughly 10 degrees, you might be duck-footed.
- If your kneecaps point inward, so that your knees touch when your legs are straightened, you might be pigeon-toed.
- If one shoulder is higher than the other, you probably have an elevated shoulder.
- If you have a noticeably pronounced belly, or your hips tilt forward while your lower spine is significantly arched, you may have anterior pelvic tilt.
- If you can see your shoulder blade sticking out, your back may be too rounded.
- If your ear is further forward than your shoulder, you likely have forward head posture.
Lazy, incorrect posture is the main cause of spine problems, but there’s hope! Refer to the next section to start to fix some of these common conditions. If you’re already troubled by what you see, we also have diagnostic testing in-office.
II. How to Straighten Spine Naturally – Common Problems of Posture and Quick Solutions
You can start to eliminate your issues by making use of these easy exercises to correct your posture and strengthen your body. Here are some of the most common problems and how you can fix them right at home.
(For best results, repeat each exercise over a few sets, and do them daily.)
1. DUCK FEET
Also called splayfoot, this condition is defined as habitually standing or walking with the ends of your feet angled outwards.
Your hip flexors and oblique abdominal muscles are weak.
HOW TO FIX:
With your hands on your hips, stand with your hips stacked over your ankles, tilt forward from your waist to a 45 degree angle. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then relax to a standing position. Repeat.
2. PIGEON TOES
Also known as in-toeing, this is a condition which causes your toes to point inward when walking.
Your glutes (butt muscles) are weak.
HOW TO FIX:
Lie comfortably on one side of your body. With your heels together and your knees bent 90 degrees, lift your upper knee away from the other up to 45 degrees to the floor while keeping your heels together. This movement will look not unlike a clamshell opening and closing. Hold your upper knee up for a few deep breaths, then lower your knee to the starting position. Repeat multiple times for each side.
3. ELEVATED SHOULDER
Uneven or elevated shoulder is when one shoulder is higher than the other. The difference may be mild or significant.
Your traps or rotator cuff muscles are weak.
HOW TO FIX:
Standing relaxed, take a breath and align your spine. Squeeze and lift your shoulders toward your ears slowly, and hold your shoulders up in the top most position for a few deep breaths, then relax your shoulders back down slowly.
4. ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT
This is a change in posture that occurs when the front of your pelvis rotates forward and the back of the pelvis rises.
Tight hip flexors
HOW TO FIX:
Lying flat on the floor, knees bent with your feet flat on the ground, bring one knee to your chest. Repeat multiple times, then switch to the other leg.
(You can improve the effect of this exercise by lying on a bench with your legs hanging off and touching the floor and pulling your foot off the ground and your knee all the way up to your chest.)
5. ROUNDED SHOULDERS
The term rounded shoulders is used to describe a resting shoulder position that has moved forward from a straight alignment. Some refer to it as “mom posture.”
Weak traps, rhomboids, and rotator cuffs, as well as shortened pectoral muscles.
HOW TO FIX:
Stand up straight, and reach your hands behind yourself and clasp them together loosely. Slowly and gently pull your shoulders straight back while keeping your neck steady. Hold for 30 seconds, relax briefly, then repeat.
6. FORWARD HEAD POSTURE
Forward head posture is one of the most common spinal problems today modernly caused by smart device usage. What was mostly seen in professions like hairdressers previously, it has become so common that some have started to call it iHunch. It is a current leading cause of neck pain and headaches.
Overworked muscles down the back of the neck, weak middle and lower back muscles, and weakened front of neck muscles.
HOW TO FIX:
Sitting, tuck your chin slightly toward your chest. Holding this tuck, use your neck posterior neck muscles back such that the back of your skull is moving toward the wall behind you. It will feel as if you’re moving your head diagonally toward the ceiling. Hold this stretch for a few deep breaths, then relax and repeat. You can do this exercise many times per day.
Over time, incorrect posture takes a serious toll on your back, knees, hips, and shoulders. Improper posture can lead to structural flaws that cause joint and back pain, compromise muscles, and reduce flexibility. In turn, this will limit your ability to stretch and build strength.
Slouching and walking as you do right now might seem more comfortable since you’re used to it, but no exercise can give you a straight spine if you do not start with changing your habits to include proper posture too.
III. Posture Tips to Straighten Your Back Naturally:
As mentioned, correcting poor posture habits is essential. We must start to develop good habits to correct problems long-term to not intensify any existing issues.
Here are a few guidelines and tips on how to improve your posture naturally at home or at the workplace.
1. SLEEPING POSTURE:
- If you sleep on your side, place a flat pillow between your legs and knees to help keep your spine straight and aligned.
- Always use a supportive pillow under your head to properly align and support your shoulders and skull.
- Sleeping on your side or back is almost always better than sleeping on your stomach.
- A firm mattress is generally best for overall back health, although individual preference should also be taken into account.
2. DRIVING POSTURE:
- Move your seat up so that you can depress both foot pedals all the way to the ground with your knees remaining bent. Your back should remain against the seat.
- Recline the back of the seat very little, by only about 5 degrees.
- If there is a height adjustment, raise the seat so that your hips align with your knees. If an adjustment isn’t available, consider buying a cushion. Your head should never reach the ceiling and cause you to slouch.
- The top of your headrest should match the top of your skull. If possible, tilt the headrest forward so that it’s no more than 4 inches from your head.
3. WALKING POSTURE:
- To keep your shoulders aligned, imagine a string attached to the top of your head and let it pull you up from your hips such that you stand tall and straight without leaning forward or backward.
- Engage your core muscles.
- Rotate your hips slightly forward. Engaging your glutes may help with this.
- Put the phone away! Look about 20 feet ahead of you to keep your chin parallel to the ground.
- Shrug your shoulders and roll them slightly back. Engaging your traps slightly may help.
- Don’t clench your hands or let them swing across the midpoint of your body.
- Take small steps such that your forward foot lands more toward the center of your body. Long strides may hurt your back.
4. STANDING POSTURE:
- To test proper posture, stand with your heels, hips, and shoulders against a wall. If the back of your head does not align naturally against the wall, your head is too far forward (forward head posture or anterior head carriage).
- If you stand for long periods, shift your weight from one foot to the other from time-to-time.
- Like when you walk properly, shrug your shoulders and roll them slightly back.
- Allow your arms to naturally hang at your sides.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Stand with your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.
- Avoid locking your knees.
5. SITTING POSTURE:
- Moving regularly is key! Do not sit for too long, even in an ergonomic office chair. Stand up and walk around as regularly as once every 45 minutes or more. While you’re up, stretch your arms, legs, and back.
- Keep both feet flat on the floor. If your feet cannot reach the floor comfortably, consider a footrest.
- Keep your knees level with your hips or slightly higher than your hips.
- Keep your back aligned against the back of your chair. Avoid leaning forward or slouching.
- When seated at a desk, your elbows should bend at a 90 to 105 degree angle so that you’re reaching slightly toward your keyboard and mouse. Your arms should rest only very lightly on the desk. If you can manage it, do not use your armrests.
- If you will be seated for long periods of time, consider an ergonomic chair to support your back properly.
6. ACTIVE CARRYING POSTURE:
- Always use your leg muscles for lifting instead of your lower back. Bend at your knees, never your waist.
- When carrying a bag or purse on one shoulder, keep it as light and balanced as possible and alternate which side you carry it on. If you’ll be carrying it for an extended period, it should weigh no more than a few pounds. You should be able to hold it comfortably with one finger.
- If you’re using a backpack regularly, once again shrug your shoulders and roll them slightly back. Consider a rolling backpack.
- When carrying a large or heavy object, keep the object close to your chest.
- If you plan on doing a lot of heavy lifting, you should consider getting a supportive belt.
Changing your habits will help to provide you with solid support for your back and pain should reduce over time. It will take effort on your part to shift your habits.
It may feel awkward at first, but eventually- in actually as short a period of just a few weeks- your new habits will begin to feel more comfortable and normal.
IV. Other Things To Consider For Spine Health:
Remember, the main cause of spine health comes from your muscles, which pull your body out of alignment. It is key to have a variety of effective exercises and good posture habits.
But here are some extra methods to add to your regimen to make a positive change in your spine health.
1. A GOOD DIET MAKES A DIFFERENCE
A good diet plays a key role in providing your spine and body the necessary nutrition and nourishment to heal. Lean proteins, fresh fruits, and fresh vegetables will help you develop the muscle and immune system required to improve your spinal strength. You may also want to consider well-sourced supplements, such as a B-Complex.
2. GET SOME EXPOSURE TO THE SUN EVERY DAY
Sunlight is a rich source of vitamin D which is essential for strong bones. You do not need much time in the sun. Maybe 10-20 minutes. Just a little vitamin D will help rejuvenate your body and stimulate your spine.
3. SCHEDULE YOUR SLEEP
Sleep is another fundamental factor that contributes to spinal health. Research shows that inadequate sleep may trigger neck and back problems. The strength of the bone, as well as the whole body energy level, depends very much on whether you have enough sleep.
Six to eight hours is minimally recommended. We’re not going to sayon when you should sleep, but you should go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
Beyond common benefits that meditation can bring you, such as improve your productivity, increase your alertness, and rejuvenate your body, it can also help you straighten your spine. With proper sitting (or lying down) while you meditate, minimally you will find that you will strengthen your core through deep breathing.
Deep breathing exercises allow the nerves to function more effectively. You can start a medication exercise by placing your hand on your abdominal area to pay attention to the elasticity of your stomach as you inhale and exhale.
As you may have gathered, the methods in this article are very simple to follow and safe for men and women of all ages to straighten their spine naturally. Without expensive drugs, pills, or invasive surgery, you can follow these tips and techniques to straighten your spine naturally at home.
Many people also find these simple tricks can be further enhanced with regular massage therapy or treatment with a chiropractor or physical therapist.
If you’d like to speak with us to find out more, feel free to reach out.