A healthy spine and nervous system is the key to your overall health and wellbeing. All it takes to give your spine the care it deserves is consciousness, determination and discipline. Let your spine be working for you in the most beneficial way. Here are ten simple and commonsense tips on how to care for your spine:
Make exercise a vital part of your everyday life.
Our spines have been designed for movement. Through regular exercise that consists of stretching and movements to strengthen the back, abdominals and hamstrings, we can maintain a healthy spine. When in top shape, our spines are able to efficiently distribute nutrients into the vertebral discs and soft tissues, keep the spinal discs, joints, muscles and ligaments healthy and accelerate the healing process in our body.
Maintain good posture especially when sitting.
Did you know that your spine carries 300% more load compared to when you are standing? This should alert you to not spend long hours sitting even when you are at work. Slouching for long hours can result to muscle tension, lower back pain and even leg pain, or sciatica. Even if your work requires eight hours on your desk, be sure to get up and do simple stretching at least every 30 minutes. Also, since sitting in front of your office table almost the entire day is your daily routine, be sure you use an ergonomically-friendly chair and have an ergonomic office setup.
Use comfortable walking shoes.
Walking brings a lot of benefits to your spine. It strengthens the muscles keeping the body upright, aids in nourishing the spinal structures with the necessary nutrients, strengthens the bones and improves flexibility.
It is therefore wise to use a flexible and comfortable pair of shoes while walking. Your shoes also serve as a stable and firm base for your spine to stay in proper alignment.
Use heat therapy for relaxation.
After a long working day, your back and neck may feel sore. Applying heat therapy can greatly help in soothing spinal discomfort and relaxing before going to sleep. This may be done by using heating pads, warm gel packs, wraps, hot water bottles or taking a warm bath or shower.
Use a supportive pillow and mattress when you sleep.
We spend on the average nearly one-third of the day to sleep. Sleeping also serves as the time for our spine to take a rest after working hard throughout the workday. Using mattresses and pillows that are not supportive of the spine can only lead to stress for the spine and result to back ache and stiff neck in the morning.
Consider a mattress and pillow that provide correct support. Also suit your sleeping position to your preference and comfort to avoid back and neck pain.
Eat healthy food.
Your diet can spell the difference between your body’s overall health and illness. It also has a significant impact on the health of your spine. Whole foods or natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, dairy and meats are very good for your bones and spine, and for your whole body systems, for that matter. Make eliminating all processed foods in your diet and eating only whole foods your goal.
Eat foods high in calcium for improved bone mass and strength. Also include in your diet foods rich in other nutrients and vitamins. They can effectively prevent osteoporosis and other bone conditions, even as you age.
Maintain your body’s ideal weight.
Proper diet and exercise can also control your body weight and prevent extra weight that can put additional pressure to your spine, particularly your lower back.
Go for massage therapy and chiropractic care.
Massage and chiropractic care are legitimate treatments for back pain as shown by many studies. They offer many benefits, including improving circulation, restoring range of motion for the spine, helping with insomnia, and improving energy level. Read my extended take on chiropractor’s view of the problem here.
Studies show that smoking leads to the development of degenerative spinal disorders and back pain, among other detrimental effects. Smoking causes damage to the spinal joints and discs’ vascular structures.
Lifting heavy objects improperly put very high risks to your lower back muscles due to their abnormal positions. It can lead to painful muscle strains, locking of the spinal joints and the rupturing of the spinal disc, or herniated disc.
To correctly lift a heavy load, involve the knees, keep the weight as close as possible to your body, keep the chest forward and lead with the hips, not with the shoulders.
Give your spine the proper attention and care it deserves for your own benefit and before it is too late to address any serious consequences that will affect your quality of life. The best time to start implementing changes in your lifestyle habits to take care of your spine is now.
Disc herniation or slipped disc is sometimes mistakenly identified to be the source of back pain. This began with the development of x-ray technology. When images of disc herniation first emerged, medical professionals started to point to the slipped disc as the cause for many back pain complaints. For decades, it was commonly assumed that if a person has back pain, slipped disc is the culprit. Unfortunately, because of this wrong assumption, many unnecessary surgeries were performed.
Complementary and alternative medicine options such as chiropractic treatment and massage therapy are now being recognized as very effective in helping provide pain relief from slipped disc.
Massage Therapy for Slipped Disc
Massage may provide relief for chronic low back pain. It involves kneading, stroking and manipulation of back tissues. These movements can increase blood flow, through which higher amount of oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the muscles. More blood also conducts away waste byproducts in the body that may increase over time.
There are over 100 different massage technique types. A technique described as deep tissue massage, for example, uses slow strokes and direct pressure to penetrate and soothe deep muscle layers and bring relief to chronic muscular tension. In contrast, Swedish massage utilizes long strokes to activate the superficial layers of the muscles. An experienced massage therapist will be able to determine the specific type of massage that will be most beneficial to your pain.
Massage is not a known treatment for slipped disc. Massage therapists are still confronted with the issue of appropriateness of doing massage on somebody with slipped disc. And although it is generally safe and does not cause side effects, it is good to get a doctor’s clearance before proceeding with the massage treatment. A standard rule of safety to note is that anything that causes further aggravation of the patient’s neurological symptoms needs to be stopped immediately.
It is not advisable for patients who suffer from certain conditions such as osteoporosis, skin infections, deep vein thrombosis, arthritis or open wounds in the area that will be massaged to get massage treatment.
It is in your interest to let the massage therapist know other conditions you may have besides pain from slipped disc. It is also important for you to know that massage therapy is most effective when it complements or works in combination with other conventional medicine treatment methods.
Chiropractic Treatment for Slipped Disc
Chiropractic adjustment or chiropractic manipulation is a common and effective therapeutic treatment for lower back pain. A chiropractor, a skilled and trained professional, applies manipulation to the spinal bones or vertebrae and surrounding structures that have abnormal functions or movement patterns. The goal of the chiropractic treatment is to reduce nerve irritation, increase range of motion and improve function through the correction of subluxation or abnormality in the spine.
There are several manipulative techniques that can be used in chiropractic. A certain level of skill and “art” are involved with each different adjustment or manipulation technique.
Many studies confirm the effectiveness of the manual therapies used by chiropractors not only for lower back pain but for many other conditions including neck pain and lumbar herniated disc.
Except for two notable exceptions that chiropractors will not treat, most slipped disc conditions work well with chiropractic care. These two serious cases associated with the intervertebral disc injury are cauda equine syndrome, a disc injury where the patient loses control of bowel or bladder, and another is a slipped disc condition where the patient has advanced loss of muscle strength, sensation and reflexes.
Between the two complementary/alternative medicine therapies, chiropractic care is better suited to help relieve pain from slipped disc and even to address its symptoms and cause.