According to medical studies, about 80 percent of us will have spine issues sometime in our lives. The spine is a crucial part of the central nervous system, and a misaligned spine can cause many different medical issues ranging from numbness in the arms and legs to digestive problems and breathing difficulties.
But the good news is many back and spine issues can be prevented with just a few lifestyle changes. Many of us neglect our backs at the gym and focus on other muscle groups and cardio. However, back exercises can really make a difference for spine health when practiced regularly.
Back Strengthening Exercises
Cat-cow is a classic yoga pose and it’s great for reducing and preventing lower back pain. Get on your hands and knees and arch your back while relaxing your neck and inhaling. Hold this pose for a few seconds and then drop your chest to the floor while tightening your abs, raising your head and exhaling.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor even with your hips. Lift your hips while squeezing your butt to create a straight line from your shoulders to knees and hold for a few seconds. This is a great exercise for office workers who spend a lot of time hunched over desks.
Opposite Arm/Leg Raise
Another great back exercise is the opposite arm/leg raise, which starts by balancing your body on your hands and knees. Place your hands shoulder-width apart with your knees below your hips. Lengthen your left leg and right arm at the same time. Hold this position for a few seconds and then switch sides.
Prone Trunk Raises
Flip over onto your stomach for this back strengthening exercise and place your arms alongside your body or out in front of you. Tighten your abs and butt and lift your head and shoulders off the floor as high as feels comfortable. Hold this pose for a few seconds, return to the original position, and repeat.
Maintaining a flexible spine is essential to overall back health, and the spinal twist is another move you commonly see in yoga classes. Lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest. With your chin tucked in, roll your knees and hips to one side. Keep both shoulders on the floor and turn your head in the opposite direction of your knees.
For even more exercises to try, check out the suggestions at Healthy and Natural World and the National Osteoporosis Foundation. For exercise inspiration on-the-go, you might be interested in iPhone and Android apps, like Healthy Back Workouts.
Try lying on top of a tennis ball
One of the fastest and easiest ways to pop the kinks out of your backbone is to lie on you back and place a tennis ball or other firm ball like a lacrosse ball under your back along the side of your backbone. Slowly move your body forward and back so that it slides over the ball along the length of your backbone. Shift the ball to the other side of the backbone and repeat. Apply more concentrated downward force as you feel is comfortable with your weight concentrated over the ball. You will likely feel some of the individual joints cracking as they pop back into alignment.
Support Your Joints with Nutrition
It might surprise you to learn that what you eat has a huge impact on the health of your spine. Eating lean protein, healthy fats, and fresh fruits and vegetables helps build lean muscle and support your spine. B-vitamins and omega-3s have shown to also help reduce nerve pain in the spine and throughout the body. All-natural supplements, like our Shark Cartilage and Omega-3 Shark Liver Oil, can help add more joint support to your daily diet as well.
Other Tips for a Healthy Spine
- Monitor your posture throughout the day
- Practice deep belly breathing to improve your posture
- Get outside and soak in a little sunlight every day
- Make time for daily meditation
- Choose a supportive mattress and pillow to support your spine while you sleep