Do you remember the song from childhood that goes, “The toe bone is connected to the foot bone, the foot bone is connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone is connected to the leg bone” and so on? All of the bones in the body eventually meet at the back bone. That is because the spine is literally the backbone of your body. Because the spine is the key to feeling healthy and strong, it is important to understand its importance and how to achieve optimal spinal health.
How the Spine Functions
The spine is composed of 33 individual bones called vertebrae. Each vertebrae moves separately from one another by rotating, stretching, or extending to allow for smooth mobility and movement. Although each vertebrae moves individually, they all work together to create these uninterrupted movements.
The spine also has three major functions:
Protect the spinal cord and nerves
Provide structural support for the rest of the body
Allow flexibility and mobility
Importance of Good Spinal Health
A healthy spine helps to keep your body strong. Because the spine is the foundation of the body, all movements are directly related to it. Simple tasks such as walking, standing, reaching, or sitting could all be impacted if your spine is acting up. Without a healthy spine, vertebrae that don’t typically perform a task will have to overcompensate for the injured bone causing further stress on the body.
How to Keep Your Spine Healthy
Support Your Spine Supporting your spine is one of the best things you can do to achieve optimal spinal health. You can support your spine by:
Choosing a supportive mattress and pillow that will allow your body to rest fully while providing the support you need to keep your spine aligned.
Some lower back pain can be relieved by wearing supportive shoes or purchasing shoe inserts which can help to absorb the shock and pressure of walking that your spine would otherwise be taking.
Exercise Your Spine You can review a variety of simple exercisesyou can do at home to help you get started. Daily exercise will allow your muscles and body to get stronger which will allow for more flexibility and strength. It is also important to stretchin the morning or before a workout. This will aid in keeping your spine healthy, and help you prepare for your workout.
Practice Good Posture Good posture should be practiced throughout the day. You can practice good posture by doing the following:
Sleeping on a mattress that provides proper spine alignment and support.
Check with your employer to see if they offer an ergonomics consultation. A representative may be able to come help you setup your work station and chair to achieve proper posture. They may also be able to order custom supplies if needed.
When standing, sitting, or walking, it is important to remain straight with your shoulders back. This will help keep your spine aligned and linear. Slouching or slumping can cause stress on your spine by forcing it into an unnatural position.
Seek Professional Help Listen to your spine. If you are experiencing back pain, it is your body’s way of saying something is wrong. You may need to reach out to one of the professionalsbelow:
Find a doctor who specializes in back pain or contact your family practitioner.
A massage therapist may be able to relax your muscles and relieve the stress your back is harboring.
Acupuncture has also been suggested for an alternative treatment route by using needles at specific points in the body. This can help to relieve pain and stimulate different chemicals in the brain to release, causing pain relief.
It is important to understand that all of the tasks we take for granted throughout the day are dependent on our spine. Reaching for the cup of coffee you need after a long restless night, bending over to put your shoes on, sitting in a car or on a bus can all be hindered and a once simple task can now be strenuous without a healthy spine. It is important to take steps to achieve optimal spinal health before it even becomes a problem. If you are already experiencing spinal pain, listen to your body. It knows best!