Do you have stress on your spine?
Keeping your spine healthy this year may be one of your most important resolutions for 2017. Your spine houses your body’s most important organ - your nervous system, which controls EVERYTHING your body does on a daily basis! When there is stress on your spine and nervous system, your body can’t function at 100%, which can eventually lead to pain, dysfunction and disease. Our bodies are pretty amazing, and when we reduce stress to the spine and nervous system, we can feel better and function optimally!
1. Get Up During the Day - Our bodies are not designed to sit all day, but unfortunately that’s what most of our jobs entail. Sitting for 7 hours a day has not only been linked to an increase in pain, but also heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, brain fog, osteopenia and even certain cancers. You should try to get up from your chair for at least 10 minutes every hour - this could mean standing up when you get a phone call, making extra trips to the copier or walking over to speak with a co-worker instead of e-mailing. There are some really cool smart phone apps like Stand Up! – These will bing or buzz your phone once an hour to remind you to get up and get moving!
2. Use Proper Ergonomics - You should always be mindful of your workstation ergonomics, your workout form at the gym, or even how you’re holding your body when doing things around the house. Over time, these incorrect postures can lead to uneven wear and tear on our joints, a lack of energy and even brain fog. Proper workstation ergonomics can be found here and, if you’re getting back to the gym, you may want to consider working with a professional trainer who can show you how to use proper form!
3. Add Movement To Your Life - Movement is the key to function. When there is a lack of motion (or improper motion) in our spinal joints, muscles and ligaments, they cannot function at their best and eventually set your body up for problems. To prevent injuries and keep all of the supportive structures of your body healthy and balanced, you should add exercises and stretches that target all 3 planes of movement (front to back, side to side and rotation) - there are some great examples here.
4. Sleep in the Proper Position - Many of the problems I see on a daily basis in my practice are actually the results of improper sleeping positions. It only takes 10-15 minutes for our ligaments to relax enough to cause stress on our spine, so sleeping in the wrong position throughout the entire night can be a common cause of pain and dysfunction in our bodies. You should never sleep on your stomach - this position not only causes pressure on the structures in your lower back, but also forces us to turn our head completely to 1 side, which can cause stress at the base of your neck and upper back. Try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your side with your neck properly supported and a pillow between your knees to prevent your body from rotating or twisting during the night.