Maintaining the health, hygiene, and integrity of the spine is one of the most, important things that you can do for your body. In order to achieve optimal health and to live a Wellness Based Lifestyle, taking care of the spine and nervous system is a must. The brain and nervous system control every single cell, tissue, muscle, and organ in the body. One of the most surprising things that I see in our society is regardless of how in shape people might be very few people actually take steps to specifically address the spine and nervous system.
So here is a list of 5 Secrets that you can begin utilizing today in order to make certain you are doing everything that you can to maintain your spine:
1.Get Under Regular Chiropractic Care: The number one thing that you can do to improve the health of your spine and nervous system is to get under regular Chiropractic care, and by regular I suggest weekly spinal checks. There is scientific research that proves that within as little as 7 days, any joint in the body that is immobilized starts to show signs of degeneration. In other words, a joint that is not moving as well as it should, begins to show signs of osteoarthritis development. Therefore, I suggest that all my Practice Members come in for weekly visits in order to make certain that arthritis has little chance of developing in the spine. When the spinal bones misalign due to stress, there is a good possibility of them getting stuck out of alignment, and therefore the range of motion becomes very limited.
2.Drink Plenty of Water: This might seem like a weird place for me to plug the need to drink water, but believe it or not, this is one of the best things that you can do for spinal health. You see, the discs in between the spinal bones, called the Intervertebral Discs, are composed of over 80% water. Even though the outer layer of the disc is a fibrous cartilage, the inner portion has the consistency of petroleum jelly. In order for the disc to maintain their height, they need water. When disc lose their height, as in the case of Degenerative Disc Disease, there is a possibility for the nerves that exit the spine to get pinched and cause pain or other neurological issues. I want to note here that Degenerative Disc Disease is osteoarthritis in the spine, so you can see how each of the 5 secrets is interrelated to one another. In general terms, aim for 64 ounces of water per day. Increase this if you are working or exercising outside in the heat, or sweat a good portion of the day.
3.Walk Regularly: Walking is a tonic for the body, and is one of the simplest forms of exercise. In fact, I suggest that a regular walking routine be the foundation of your exercise regimen. Start with walking 20 minutes at a brisk pace, yet one that you can still easily carry on a conversation, 3 times per week. Once you do this for 4 weeks, bump up to 4 times per week. After you have made it 4 weeks of walking 4 times per week, increase the duration to 30 minutes for each walk. Make this the basis of your physical fitness routine and you will be making certain that you not only improve the health of your spine, but the entire body as well.
4.Sit on a Yoga Ball at Least 10 Minutes per Day: The discs of the spine that we talked about earlier need movement in order to pump water in and out of the discs. This is a process called “imbibing.” As we move the spine, water is pulled in which causes the discs to stay nice and fully hydrated, while wastes are pushed out at the same time. Simply sitting on a yoga ball and gently moving around in circular type motions is a perfect way to ensure movement throughout the spine, thereby allowing this imbibing process to take place. Well hydrated discs, are happy discs.
5.Gently Stretch The Spine Each Day: This does not have to be a full-on yoga class, although that is a great idea if you can, but simply just 5 minutes or so of stretching each day. I will make it even simpler for you here by laying out a very simple spine stretching routine. So first, bend forward from a standing or seated position. If standing, it is completely fine to bend the knees. If you can touch the floor great, if not simply place you hand on you shins or thighs. Hold this and the other stretches for 20 seconds.
Now, while standing place your palm on the same side outer thigh and then slide the hand down the leg towards the knee as you bend to the side. Keep your hips straight and bend from the waist. Remember this is a back stretch. Again, hold for 20 seconds then repeat on the opposite side.
From a standing position, simply place your hands on your hips, extend the neck back to look up at the ceiling and then slowly start to extend back with the torso. You should really feel a stretch in the lower back and throughout the spine. A slight back bend is all you need, so never go to the point of sharp shooting pain. A very slight discomfort is fine. As with the others, hold for 20 seconds.
Finish up with some twists to each side by simply rotating as far as you can to one side, then the other. Again, only go to the point of slight discomfort and hold on each side for 20 seconds.
So there are the 5 Secrets to Spinal Health. Trust me if you do these on a regular basis, you will improve the overall health of the nervous system. Remember the nervous system is what controls the rest of the body, and by not taking care of nervous system you risk some serious health consequences. Contact us today for more information on Chiropractic and Spinal Hygiene. I discuss in detail spinal health in my book, The Wellness Revolution: A Chiropractic and Natural Approach to Optimal Health, which is available on amazon.com so make certain to grab a copy.
In Wellness and Love,
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.