There are 24 vertebrae, plus the sacrum and coccyx that make up the spine. Nerves from the spinal cord pass between the vertebrae, and they in turn send thousands of branches to every part of our body. These are the nerves that carry impulses (messages) to the millions of cells throughout the body. In affect they are the lines of communication between the brain and the cells. Spinal health is what we will be discussing. Maintaining a healthy spine for a Chiropractor is the number one priority. First you must get to know your body.
This means that you have to be aware of the way we sit, stand, walk, sleep, and how we perform our daily activities, both at work and play. Starting with a good night’s sleep will set you up for a pleasant day. Use a good firm mattress, but not one that is extremely hard as to prevent your body from it’s proper contouring to your body form. It should maintain your spine in a straight line. If you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your head and neck, but be sure you do not sleep with your shoulders on the pillow. Another pillow placed under your knees is advisable. When turning on your side, make sure the pillow for your head and neck is thick enough (bunch up your pillow if necessary) to support your head in a straight line, so as not to let your head sink lower than the rest of your spine. Also place the pillow you had under your knees, between your knees. DO NOT sleep on your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach will place too much stress on your neck.
People who sleep on their stomach also have a tendency to keep one arm above their head, which in all probability is apt to cause future shoulder problems. If you are on ‘Doctor’s Senior Exercise’ program, or any other exercise program, be sure to do a little stretching before you start your exercises. If you are on an exercise’ program, you do the stretching before you do any of the exercises. When you have finished your exercises, stretch a little more, then go and have a small glass of juice before you continue with your next exercises. It will give you a little energy boost. When you have finished the remaining exercises, stretch again, and you are now ready to start the day. The whole program will take only 15 to 20 minutes. Start an exercise program slowly at first and gradually build up the repititons so as to prevent misshaps to the body structures. We discussed all the safe precautions we should take to keep us from having all manner of accidents.
Now we will discuss how we can preserve good spinal health throughout our daily activities. We start our day with our daily ablutions. When standing at the sink, keep your knees slightly bent. Do not bend over with a stiff back. Men when shaving do not tilt your head back, keeping it in a straight line with your spine and your eyes level. Ladies (and men), do not wash your hair at the sink, but wait to do that in the shower. When brushing your teeth, do not stay bent over the sink. Brush standing up until you are ready to rinse. After breakfast, for those of you who may be driving to work? Or, you just may be going to the golf course, or shopping. Getting in and out of the car is important in preventing sudden injuries and strains to the back. Back into the seat, placing your backside on the seat, keeping both feet on the ground, then swing both legs in one at a time. The proper driving position will help prevent backache and fatigue. Sitting at the wheel, your seat should give you the proper support for your back. If your car does not have an adjustable lumbar support, you can purchase a back hugger pillow, which will give you the needed support so that there isn’t any strain on the lumbar area of your back.
If your seat is overly soft and is not giving the needed support, then you may want to consider using a special seat to sit on. Do not keep your left arm on the car door for any length of time. Do keep your hands at the 4 and 8 o’clock position on your wheel. That will not only prevent undue strain on your back and shoulders, but it can help prevent serious injuries should your Air Bag inflate for any reason.
At work, again if your job requires long periods of sitting, you must pay particular attention to your chair. Having the proper chair will be one of the most important things that will prevent undue strain on the spine. Be sure the chair has the proper support for your lower (lumbar) area of your back. If your have to sit for long periods of time, be sure to get up often and stretch your back, arms and legs every half hour or so. If your job requires that you twist to one side in order to use a typewriter or computer; try to position your chair so that you will be facing the typewriter or computer.
If you have to sit for long periods at the computer, make sure the screen is on the level with your eyes so that you will not have to tilt your head back. If you can tilt the computer screen so that it is comfortable for you’re viewing. If your job is repetitive, such as using one arm on an assembly line; try using the other arm when possible for the same length of time. If you can, switch jobs from time to time with someone who has a different repetitive job. These are some of the most important things we can do, because these are the things we do so often on a daily basis.
Other areas are when we are at recreation or just lounging around. But the precautions we need to take are basically the same as mentioned above. It is so simple to make these things a daily part of our lives, that it is ludicrous not to do so, when such simple things can prevent undue pain and suffering. A simple thing as drinking from a can will cause strain on your neck, when all we have to do is use a straw to prevent that from happening. I hope this has given you food for thought, because I can’t impress enough on you the importance of maintaining the health and well being of your spine. Strengthening your spine and keeping it flexible can only be accomplished by exercising to maintain your muscle tone and strength. In other words, like a car, or any other fine piece of machinery, maintain it and it will give you good service and perform for many, many years and into your ‘Golden Years.