How You Can Keep Your Spine Healthy

By Dr. Brent Wells

The spine is a very important part of the body, although many might not pay much attention to it. Because of this, it can be difficult to know just how to keep your spine healthy. This article will explore more behind the importance of the spine and the ways you can work to keep it in shape.

What is the Spine?

The spine is part of the body’s central support structure. It not only helps us to walk upright but is connected to many vital body parts including:

  • Chest
  • Head
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Pelvis

Unlike many other bones, the spine is a very flexible one. This is due to its elastic ligaments which are connected to various discs and nerves.

Why is the Spine a Crucial Part of the Body?

The spine is a crucial part of the body for many reasons.

  • It Helps with Flexibility

The spine is what allows us to move around at different angles. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to move in different directions which could make things, including simple tasks, very difficult to do.

  • It Controls Bodily Functions

Surprisingly, the spine also helps to control many different bodily functions. Because it is connected to the brain, it helps to send messages to various parts of the body. This in return allows us to control our movements and even behavior. For instance, the nerves in the spine send messages to the brain to help us to know when we need to urinate.

  • It Evenly Distributes Body Weight

Without the spine, the weight of your body would be unevenly distributed. This would make it difficult to walk and even cause health problems because the nerves wouldn’t be aligned. The spine helps to prevent this.

What Causes Spinal Problems?

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay 

There are a few things that can cause spinal problems. These include:

  • Poor posture
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Weak muscles
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Stress

When these issues are evident in the body, it can cause your spine to malfunction. This could range from slight issues to more severe ones. If not treated, these problems could eventually hurt your overall health.

Ways to Keep Your Spine Healthy

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

You’ll find many ways you can keep your spine healthy. Below are some methods to consider using.

  • Watch Your Posture

One of the best ways to keep your spine healthy is to watch your posture. Poor posture will not only cause stress on your spine, but could also lead to extreme back pain. Some ways to watch your posture include:

  • Sitting straight
  • Keeping your shoulders align
  • Wearing a brace
  • Do occasional stretches

These methods will work to keep your spine healthy and your body flexible.

  • Wear Spine-Supporting Shoes

Many might be surprised to learn that the type of shoes you wear can actually affect your spine. Poor supporting shoes will lead to a strange spine alignment. This can eventually cause your spine to curve or have extra pressure applied to it. Because of this, look to invest in spine-supporting shoes or inserts you can use.

  • Have Chiropractic Adjustments Done

Chiropractic adjustments can be a great help to spinal health. Adjustments work to prevent restrictions in the spine which can release tension. It also keeps the blood circulation moving which can remove toxins from it that cause pain and inflammation. In addition to this, constant chiropractic adjustments can help to prevent future back pain. Many chiropractic offices also offer massage therapy services such as my own clinic, Chiropractors Wasilla. A massage can help to relieve spinal pain and prevent severe spinal injuries.

  • Do Daily Exercises

Exercising can help to keep your spine healthy in many ways. It will not only work to keep it flexible but prevent it from easily being damaged. These exercises can range from intense aerobic workouts to simple stretches. Another great way to help keep your spine healthy and active is to swim. In fact, many renowned spinal institutes have claimed that swimming helps to keep the muscles in the back strong. However, due to the buoyancy of the water, you can exercise without feeling any strain in your back. This makes this option ideal for those who might already suffer from poor spinal health. Swimming exercises can vary and can span from doing laps around the pool to simply just walking around in the water.

No matter what you choose to do, exercising helps to keep the muscles in and around the spine healthy and active.

  • Use a Spine-Supporting Pillow

Another way to keep your spine healthy is to use a spine-supporting pillow. Many studies have been done that show certain pillows can extend the neck for long periods of time. Because the spine is connected to this, it can create pressure and cause the spine to twist in awkward angles. This is especially so with soft pillows which don’t provide enough support for the head and neck.

You can find a pillow that works to support your specific sleeping style. By doing so, you can sleep in a comfortable position, but one that keeps your spine supported during the night. Sometimes these pillows can also be customized to fit your needs if necessary.

  • Watch How You Lift Things

A common cause of spinal injuries or pain is improper lifting techniques. This can range from weightlifting incorrectly to simply picking up boxes in an awkward way. To properly lift an item, you want to use your leg and stomach muscles. You can bend down to pick items up with these muscles, rather than lean over which can put pressure on your spine. This will help to prevent back pain and severe spinal injuries, including slipped discs.

The spine is a vital part of the body and affects not only your back, but overall health. Because of this, it’s important to keep your spine in the best shape possible. By keeping the information above in mind, you can be sure your spine stays healthy so you can lead a painless and more active lifestyle.

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Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998 and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice provides the best chiropractic care and spinal adjustment in Juneau and has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief.

Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe and Lifehack. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.

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References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279468/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/is-your-pillow-hurting-your-health

https://www.ispinei.com/2018/12/24/back-pain-relief-swimming/

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Beautiful featured image by

Jairo Alzate


Alignment - Part 3

By Steven Lubka

Performing a Cranial-Spinal Reset

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Finally, I want to offer a technique for resetting the whole system when it is under stress. Anytime you feel tension or discomfort you can perform this to initiate a relaxation response.

The first step is positioning oneself in the above posture. The key points are as follows:

  1. You are lying on a firm surface
  2. The angle of your thighs to your spine is close to 90 degrees
  3. The angle of your shins to thighs is close to 90 degrees
  4. The ankles and feet are pointed
  5. The hips are positioned directly over each other, as well as all joints in the legs.
  6. The forehead is resting on the hands. It is very important that you are not resting the head on cheekbones or jaw joint. Resting the weight on one of these areas will be counter productive

Once one is in the following posture it is important to spent a moment attending to the breath. Allow the breath to shift into the lower belly, this will often happen automatically as the chest is pressed to the ground through the position. As one breathes they will feel an opening in the sides of the back. This mechanism of the breath force kicking back against the chest which is pinned to the floor serves to reset the spinal vertebra.

After one has spent a moment in the position it is time to address the skull. While in the position you now move to adopt correct oral posture. To really perform the reset you want to bring the molars together with a degree of force as you push the tongue against the roof of the mouth with 80% of the total force available to you at that time. If the amount of force available to you at the time with your tongue is enough to overpower the strength of the jaw muscles which keep the molars together decrease the force of the tongue. The aim of this is to release the jaw joint and it will only occur if the bite muscles are being engaged in this way. Performing this oral exercise while the body is rotated in this will serve to remedy any twisting of the skull, as well as the rest of the body. Once you have performed this on one side of your body flip yourself over and perform the same exercise on the other side. I recommend this highly as correcting the various ways the body is rotationally imbalanced is something which is often neglected.  

Finally, there is a quality which is essential the individual cultivates to really bring the total force of their being towards the journey of physical healing. This quality is the driving force of the whole process and if one were to do nothing else, I would simply suggest they cultivate it. The quality I am describing I would call , in my own words, a “felt sense” of the body. In other terms would could call it interoception and proprioception, the sensing of the internal condition of one’s body. This means that one must deepen their awareness of what their body feels like and be able to respond intelligently to the feeling state of the body. This carries emotional connotation as well. It is the refining of one’s sense of the emotional energies that circulate in the body, and the cultivation of a perspective of consciousness which is able to simply observe the impact of emotions without being drawn into reaction or identification with them. This quality can be cultivated through practicing continuous awareness of the various tensions once experiences in the body, as well as attending to each body part individually. What this means is to take a moment in meditation to feel what each body part is feeling. In one sense this is a coming home to the flesh, which we often turn away from or neglect. In another sense it is simultaneously important to develop an observer consciousness which is not attached to these things. This is a coming home to the spirit. If one does nothing else, cultivate these essential qualities.

I clearly remember the first time I ever tried to make myself feel better. Such a normal and commonplace action yet it struck me even at the time. I was 8 years old and I was looking forward to going to a favorite store when I found out it was closed. In that moment my mind reached for something else I could do to cope with the disappointment, something that might bring me pleasure. This is something we often do, and we even raise our children in this way. When there is emotional upset we seek something external to change our experience of those feelings.

However this represents a turning away from Self, from the ever present ground of being. It was my first encounter with the aspect of the ego which is focused on how it feels and is always desiring to feel better. What a mechanism! This was the beginning of my later drug addiction, at 8 years old. Addiction could not possibly exist in a being who is not seeking to experience pleasure and push away pain. And yet this function of egoic consciousness exists in many forms besides that of drug addiction. I think if we look at ourselves with an honest sense of inquiry we will find that we are all seeking a better experience most of the time. If we look with an even more discerning gaze we will also see that in doing this we actually create more pain for ourselves than if we didn't try to do anything about our negative feelings.

It is an important step in our journeys to heal the state of our body-mind, indeed this whole article has dealt with the process of healing. However, it is important to be aware of our motivation for doing so. Are we attempting to run from pain, to push it away as unacceptable, or are we seeking to meet our pain with the redemptive force of our loving attention?  For the rare individuals who are after Truth and not simply a better experience this is of the utmost importance. The path of self-improvement and healing is an ENDLESS path. One never reaches an end point. The only thing left for those who’s goal is something beyond this is direct insight into the nature of the Self. The act of trying to heal oneself or feel better is a pointer and a path in of itself, however this path does not lead to the ultimate goal. It prepares the seeker to be able to recognize and accommodate the divine perspective which will emerge later.

For me remembering the first time I ever engaged in the act of turning away from my pain, also always reminded that there existed something outside of it. It indicated that there was another state of being which was not concerned with how it felt and never attempted to change what was.

As always, this is a fantastic teacher for me. In remembrance of the Great Self, we turn ourselves towards our source , with endless devotion, without ceasing. The true God is a silent one, and a small one. There is nothing other than this.

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Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living