Your spine is a collection of vertebrae that extends from your skull down your back and protects the spinal cord. This is a very important part of the body that often gets ignored and misunderstood. However, many of the aches and pains you feel in your body could be due to spine issues that increase with age, inactivity, and injuries.
Here is some information about how to maintain a healthy spine, including exercises for spine health and foods to eat to support your spine.
The Importance of Spine Health
The vertebrae of the spine are separated by discs that absorb shock and help you move in every way possible. It is interconnected to all parts of the body and can impact movements from head to toe. You need your spine to protect your spinal cord and nerve roots, as well as to provide structure and support for your entire body. Without the spine as part of your nervous system, you wouldn’t be able to feel sensations like hot, cold, pain, and pressure.
Symptoms of Spine Issues
Back pain is the most common symptom associated with a malfunctioning or misaligned spine, and pain in this region can be very severe and debilitating. This pain can be caused by bad posture, a genetic defect, imbalanced muscles, or simply living a lifestyle that’s too sedentary. Neck pain, tingling extremities, numbness, hip pain, and pain that shoots down your leg are also symptoms of spine issues.
Best Posture Exercises for Spine Health
One of the very best ways to boost your spine health is to practice good posture. Having proper posture keeps your bones aligned so that muscles are used in the most efficient way possible and so that stress on the ligaments that hold the spine together is decreased. Practice this by sitting in an ergonomic chair with your back straight, buttocks touching the chair back, and shoulders rolled back. Maintain this position by placing a lumbar support roll or even just a rolled-up towel at the normal curve of your back. Feet should be flat on the floor and knees bent at a right angle.
To strengthen the spine, try doing leg lift exercises while lying on your back and lifting one leg up a few inches at a time while stabilizing your hips. Hold each leg up for a few seconds, slowly lower it down, and repeat with the other leg. Shrugging your shoulders up and down slowly while standing up, with feet shoulder-width apart, is a great way to support the spine through upper body movements. Stretching daily and doing core strengthening exercises are also great for maintaining a well-functioning spine. Key stretches for spine health work the hamstrings, abdominal muscles, and lower back.
Other Natural Ways to Protect Your Spine
In addition to practicing good posture, you can also eat certain healthy foods to improve your spine’s health. Anti-inflammatory foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and flaxseeds, are recommended for spine health. Other excellent foods to eat to accompany your spine workouts are dark green vegetables like broccoli, berries, avocados, and dairy products.
Another way to naturally treat and align your spine is to see a chiropractor for adjustments on a regular basis. Massage can help heal injuries that affect the spine, and staying well-hydrated with lots of water increases joint fluidity to support your spinal disks. Losing excess weight, learning how to properly lift weights at the gym, and sleeping on your side rather than your stomach are also strategies to protect your spine. You only have one spine, and it’s your job to protect it to offset a wide range of chronic problems that could be preventable.