One of the best ways to take care of your spine and your body in general is to exercise. Regular exercise, along with a healthy diet, strengthens the body, tones the muscles, improves posture, increases energy and releases stress. Exercises that target your abdominals will strengthen your core and help alleviate many back-related discomforts and pain; especially those in the lower back that are associated with weak abdominal muscles. Other forms of exercise and stretches can increase range-of-motion and flexibility so that the likelihood of future injuries are minimized.
It is important to combine self care with Chiropractic care for optimal spine, nervous system and whole body health. Be sure to engage in regular physical activity. If you need instruction for proper exercise execution to prevent injury, please ask us or seek out a personal or other fitness trainer or expert.
Soft tissue injury can be caused by repetitive stresses or by other improper movements. Long periods at the computer can put the spine in an awkward position that can cause inflammation, pain and diminished spinal function.
The Computer Chair
If you spend the majority of your time in front of a computer, invest in a chair that is designed for use at a computer station. Computer stores compete for customer business and often feature specials on office furniture, including computer chairs. Be sure to find one that has a backrest. Arm rests also help maintain good seating posture, if they are adjustable and do not force your shoulders up toward your ears. Height adjustment is also important. The chair you choose should allow you to increase or decrease height so that your legs bend comfortably at the knee while your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Another option is to invest in a physio-ball of proper height--i.e. One that allows your legs to bend naturally at the knee while your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the floor. A physio-ball does not have a backrest. It requires the user to "balance" which engages the abdominals, back and several other core muscles which leads to better posture and spine health. Start out by using the balance ball in 30 minute intervals. Increase your sitting time on the ball as your muscles strengthen.
The Computer Monitor
Position your computer monitor so that it is at an eye level. You may need to purchase a shelf at the office supply store to accomplish this. A monitor that is lower or higher than eye level will cause unnecessary strain on your neck and disrupt proper spinal alignment.
The average person spend about seven hours sleeping each day. That's roughly about a 1/3 of your day and makes your mattress one of the most important investments that you can make. A firm, comfortable mattress not only contributes to proper sleep health, but also spinal health and general well-being. Make sure that you choose a mattress that provides adequate firmness, but provides a give effect at the areas where your anatomy weight increases and contours, so that you do not develop pain and discomforts during a time when your body is naturally designed to rest and regenerate.
Take time to choose shoes that are designed for your activity. If you spend the majority of your day standing, choose comfortable, flat shoes that provide support. Ladies, especially are often tempted to buy high heeled footwear that while beautiful to look at, is uncomfortable and leads to posture, feet anatomy and other spinal problems. Try to minimize the use of heels to special occasions or for those times when you will spend most of your time sitting. Heels force the pelvis into an unnatural, forward tilting position which causes the spine to compensate for the change in position by misaligning it. Prolonged use of heels is a primary cause of back pain. Taking care of yourself through smart use of heels is not only smart, it's healthy!
For exercise always purchase footwear that is designed for the sport that you engage in. Sports shoe technology continues to advance so that it provides ergonomic support of the body during particular exercises. Purchasing a different shoe for each activity can be expensive. There are shoes that are categorized as "cross-trainers." These provide ergonomic support for a variety of similar exercises such as running/walking/tennis and minimize the investment amount. However, if you primarily run or play tennis, you should invest in a good pair of shoes for those specific sports, in addition to a cross-training pair.
Improper lifting of heavy objects can cause soft tissue and joint injuries that can lead to pain and discomfort. Bending at the waist will put unnecessary strain on your back. Always bend at the knees when lifting a heavy object, keeping the spine straight. Grasp the object so that when you lift, the object is against your chest and abdomen (Close to the body as possible), then straighten your knees without locking them into position. Reverse this process when lowering a heavy object to the floor and always get help for objects that are exceptionally heavy. Improper lifting is a primary cause of musculo-skeletal injuries (Primarily the mid and low back). Follow this procedure and minimize the odds of doing harm to your body!