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New Year’s Resolution For A Healthy Spine

January 11, 2013

A chiropractic specialist might be inclined to focus entirely on the spine when setting New Year’s resolutions. This might seem narrow-minded, but considering that spinal health has a huge influence on overall health, perhaps we could all stand to set a few spinal resolutions. One excellent yearlong promise would be to get regular chiropractic adjustments.

Chiropractic adjustments improve overall health because they enhance the functioning of the nervous system. You can think about your nervous system as the body’s highway. Nerves stretch into every square inch of your body, communicating vital information throughout the system. Indeed, the nervous system (including the brain) is the body’s command structure; it both takes in information and provides appropriate responses. As you can imagine, if the nervous system is not functioning well, there are often cascading effects on the performance of other body systems.

A chiropractic specialist corrects subluxations in the spine, which are basically misalignments that may put painful pressure on spinal nerves. Through various techniques, including manual manipulation, chiropractic clinic professionals can create more space in the spine and joints, relieving pain and improving mobility. Moreover, because the nervous system flows more smoothly with no misaligned components, a person’s overall health typically improves with consistent chiropractic adjustments. Whether you should be adjusted once a month or once a week is something to discuss with your chiropractic specialist; frequency of chiropractic adjustments will depend on numerous unique personal factors.

Beyond plotting out your yearly calendar of visits to the wellness studio, adhering to the following resolutions will help keep your spine vibrantly healthy:

1. Cherish my sleep.

Sleep has a huge influence on your overall health; it is when the body repairs itself. A chiropractic specialist generally recommends sleeping in a neutral position on the side, rather than sleeping on the stomach. (Sleeping in a stomach-down position puts irregular pressure on the spine.) The experts at your local chiropractic clinic would also recommend ponying up for a supportive pillow and mattress. Your muscles will be better able to relax if your body is properly supported in a neutral position.

2. Stretch.

Perpetually tight muscles can cause imbalances in the body’s structure, resulting in pain. Tight hamstrings, for example, pull down and back on the pelvis, disturbing the proper alignment of the spine. Stiff muscles also cause spinal stress and put more pressure on articulation points where two or more bones come together. Stretches, especially full range of motion movements such as shoulder rolls, relieve stiffness and promote healthy joints.

3. Be active.

Different types of exercise protect your spine in different ways. Lifting weights, for instance, creates strong muscles that will provide spinal support and protection. Cardio exercises help us lose those extra pounds. (Excess weight drags down on the ligaments, muscles and tendons of the lower back, causing pain.) Stretching helps keep the body limber and mobile. Ideally, the same activity will combine all three types of exercise. This may explain why many people practice yoga in addition to receiving regular chiropractic adjustments. Yoga combines stretching, strengthening and cardio exercises.

4. Create a spine-healthy work environment.

Adjusting poor workplace ergonomics can relieve any number of symptoms, including sciatica, stiffness in the neck and back, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Chiropractors also recommend that office workers take plenty of breaks. Staying in any one position for too long causes leg and back muscles to tighten up and become stiff. Finally, make sure your chair has good back support. When you sit at a computer desk, you knees should be bent at a ninety-degree angle, and both of your feet should rest comfortably on the floor.

5. Stay hydrated.

Water performs many functions in the body. Soft tissue elasticity and fluidity in the joints depends on water intake, for instance. Also, intervertebral discs can shrink over time if they don’t get enough water. As these discs shrivel, your spine has less padding, and you’re more likely to suffer painful spinal ruptures or bulges. Carry a bottle of water with you throughout the day, and sip liberally. Your spine will thank you.

These spinal resolutions will help keep your back strong and pain-free in the New Year.

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