Our spine is a key aspect in regards to the rest of our body and has a very important job- to hold us up all day! It also provides the framework for which we move our limbs upon. When your spine is healthy and strong, you feel great and can likely do all the activities you want to in life. If not, you may be limited in how good you feel and what you can participate in. Whether you want to learn how to attain a healthy and happy spine and currently you experience pain, stiffness or issues or whether you want to be sure to maintain a healthy spine into the future – here is the information you need to get there.
The spine is very complex, however we can break it down into thinking about it as if it has very key yet simple jobs to perform. One job that the spine has is to create a solid and sturdy base of support for the rest of our body to move on. In this case, the spine is happiest when it is supported by strong muscles. The muscles around the spine that are important to have strong and active are called the “core” muscles. These consist of the abdominal muscles, back muscles, gluteal muscles and scapular muscles in the upper to mid back. When the muscles are strong they help support the spine and take the load off of it.
Another job of the spine is to be able to help us maintain upright against gravity. The best way we can help our spine be effective in this role is to be aware of our posture, and focus on keeping a great posture throughout the day. When you notice you are slouching or slumping forward, straighten that spine up and think about elongating it. The more you catch yourself and correct a poor posture, the more it will start to become natural and a habit to have the perfect posture and spinal position. Taking breaks from sitting and computer work can definitely help with this as well.
Our spine is also required to be able to move in all directions for us. This movement aspect of the spine allows us to be able to bend, stoop, and perform daily activities. Without the movement and flexibility of our spine, we would be a solid board and life would be very different. Each vertebrae of the spine bends, rotates, flexes and extends on the one above and below it, and thus creates the cascade of movements necessary for tasks. The vertebrae fit together like puzzle pieces and are amazingly flexible and mobile to work together toward the goal of movement. The key point here is to keep moving your spine as much as possible, keep it flexible and able to move in all directions. This can be achieved by gentle stretching, movement exercises, and not getting “stuck” in one position for too long.
As you can see, the spine is very complex yet it is absolutely possible to attain and maintain a healthy spine by keeping the muscles that surround the spine strong, keeping a good posture and alignment for the spine, and by moving the spine frequently and in all directions. You will be happy to have a healthy spine now and into the future, and be able to achieve your active lifestyle and pursuits. If you have pain, stiffness, or any other issues that do not improve with these tips then please see a physical therapist today for a full evaluation and treatment plan as needed. We are here for you!