Spinal Wellness: Rules Everyone Should Know

Estimated reading time: 5 mins

Spinal wellness is essential to a healthy life. As well as avoiding back pain and mobility issues, the spine also helps distribute nutrients around the body, helping people stay healthy, even those who are considered elderly. Spinal wellness ensures individuals can maintain an active lifestyle, removing physical barriers that could impair their daily lives.

In this article, we will provide an overview of tips and advice on promoting spinal wellness, from a person’s diet to sports and hobbies. We will also discuss the impact of poor spinal health, including the potential surgeries that can have a long-term impact.

Why is the Spine so important?

The primary purpose of the spine is to protect the spinal cord, a tangle of nerves that connects the brain to other parts of the body. As the nervous system acts as a communication network for the entire body, any disruption to it can lead to a loss of function in the affected area. 

Vertebrae contain mechanoreceptors that continuously send information to the brain about all of the body’s responses, such as pain. The brain then takes action to regulate these responses, as well as controlling a person’s movement and overall bodily control. If the vertebrae become damaged or there is an issue that disrupts the natural flow of information through the spine or perhaps prevents it entirely, leading to problems such as a loss of bladder control. 

In addition, the spine also supports the entire body, helping a person perform a range of movements such as standing and walking. Without a fully working spine, a person may not be able to perform even the simplest of functions, while serious damage may cause a long-term, irreparable disability. 

The Consequences of Poor Spinal Health

The obvious consequence of poor spinal health is back pain, however, long-term conditions can also develop, such as spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. In severe cases, this could require surgery to attempt to fix the problem permanently. A laminectomy and spinal fusion are the most common forms of surgery but they also present some risks.

Many doctors are now promoting the benefits of mechanical spinal devices as a more effective alternative to spinal fusion. This is because these devices provide full mobility in the spine, unlike spinal fusion which fuses the vertebrae. 

6 Spinal Wellness Rules

We have outlined 6 key rules to follow when maintaining spine wellness. By making these simple lifestyle changes, a person can have a healthy spine even in their senior years, allowing them to lead a long and healthy life.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight, stick to a balanced diet, and avoid inflammatory food

A common cause of spinal issues is an individual carrying excess weight due to a poor diet and a lack of exercise. Being overweight or being considered obese can also lead to a range of physical conditions that apply additional pressure and strain on the spine. Many associated diseases can impact the amount of nutrients the spine receives.

Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is key to spine health, avoiding inflammatory foods such as red meat, dairy, refined sugar, and processed foods. Anti-inflammatory food should be incorporated into your diet as much as possible. This includes lots of fish, vegetables, fruit, seeds, and nuts.

Alcohol can also play a significant role in unwanted weight gain and beer, wine, and spirits should always be drunk in moderation, if at all. 

  1. Quit smoking!

Smoking results in a person inhaling vast amounts of nicotine which is a vasoconstrictor (a substance that tightens the blood vessels) that limits the flow of blood, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can reach the spine. 

This can bring on a range of spine-related diseases and also increase inflammation if a person is already suffering from back pain. Over time this will also cause the bones in the spine to degrade and likely impact other bones and joints in the body. 

  1. Perform regular stretches and build Strength in your back

Stretching regularly is a simple and convenient way to improve your spine’s condition. This, combined with exercises to build strength in your back can help to ensure your back remains supple and flexible, while also making it possible to manage back pain without the need for medical intervention.

Recommended exercises to improve back strength include:

  • Back extensions
  • Lat pulldowns
  • The resistance band pull-apart
  • Suspended row
  • Wide dumbbell bent-over row
  • Quadruped single-arm dumbbell row
  • Woodchop
  1. Lift heavy objects correctly

Many people suffer injury due to the incorrect lifting of heavy objects. When bending to lift a heavy object, you should always let your knees take the weight and not your back as this applies immense strain on your spine and can cause damage.

When lifting, keep your back straight, and knees bent, and use the power in your legs to lift.

  1. Avoid sitting down for prolonged periods and keep active

Sitting for long periods, a common problem for people who work a desk job can result in added pressure on the spine. If you work in a job that requires you to sit down for most of the day then make sure to take regular breaks, stand up, stretch, and walk a little while. This helps to keep your back flexible and avoid inflammation. 

Sitting for too long can also impact your spine’s natural alignment, resulting in stress on the vertebrae. In the workplace, many companies have moved to install stand-up desks for this very reason which are proven to be much better for a person’s back health than an office chair.  

  1. Take part in exercises that target the spine

Many exercises are recommended to target the spine, promoting better spinal health, building strength in the back, and increasing flexibility. Two such exercises are yoga and swimming. 

Yoga stretches and strengthens muscles in the back, however, newcomers should always start with gentle stretches while they become stronger. It is advised to work with a yoga instructor in the beginning who can observe and correct your positioning to better protect your spine and see greater benefit from the exercises. 

Meanwhile, swimming and water therapy are fantastic ways to alleviate any existing back problems. Avoiding the discomfort and impact on the spine that is caused by land-based exercises.

Thank you for reading. We hope you have taken some of the advice in this article on board, and if you are suffering from any spine-related issues, we wish you luck on your road to recovery.

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