We don’t realize that our day-to-day choices can HELP or HURT our spines, ultimately leading to a healthier life-or-neck pain/back pain and headaches.
These are 5 SIMPLE habits that contribute to spinal issues that we often see in our Miami chiropractic clinic.
5. NOT Drinking Water
We bet you didn’t think drinking water had ANYTHING to do with your spine, but guess what?! IT DOES! “I drink a LOT of water, Doc!” This is the response I get when I ask every patient about their water intake, but, after digging a little deeper it turns out that 99% of my patients aren’t even CLOSE to getting the sufficient amount of daily hydration they need.
Did you know that you need HALF your BODY WEIGHT in ounces of water EVERY DAY?! That’s not even including if you exercise!
To make it simple, a bottle of water is 16.9 ounces. A 200 pound person needs 100 ounces of water= 6 bottles of water (+ more if you’re exercising or out and about in the hot Miami sunshine)!
Water nourishes your spine and muscles. Think of your body like a sponge. If the sponge doesn’t have any water on it, what happens to it? It’s stiff and dry…just like your body! If the sponge is covered in water, it’s looser, and moves/bends easier.
“But I don’t like water!” If water bores you as much as the last Super Bowl, try spicing things up a bit! Add fresh lemon or lime juice, fruit or even some peppermint or lemon essential oil! This flavor will make drinking water a whole lot more fun!
4. Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
This may seem as simple as drinking water, but you’d be surprised how many of our patients DONT MOVE. Well, they move. From their bed to the shower to the car to their desk then back to their bed. This repeated 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year is where it’s a problem.
Movement is the KEY to life and the KEY to a healthy spine. When we perform the same (small) movements daily, our muscles and ligaments get stiff, our circulation decreases and we not only end up with a prematurely aging spine, we end up with a slew of other health problems as well including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
3. Lack of Stretching
“Oh I stretch every day, Doc.” This is the #1 response I hear when I ask patients if they stretch. Then once we dig a little deeper, we find out its only bending over toward their toes in the shower. Unfortunately, this isn’t even CLOSE to enough the amount of stretching needed to counteract all the abuse we do to our spines every day.
Daily stretching is SO vital for our spine, muscle and joints. Why?
Stretching increases flexibility and (drumroll, please)…flexibility = mobility! IN order for our joints, muscles and spine to maintain proper range of motion, we need to STRETCH! Without stretching our muscle tighten and shorten, thus being more susceptible to injury and premature wear and tear.
2. Slouching on Your Cell Phone
Our cell phones have literally become attached to our bodies…we don’t go ANYHWERE without them. They are our calendars, our diet trackers, our email communications, EVERYTHING! The only problem with this is…they’re destroying our spines!
Staring down at a phone for hours has contributed to a medical condition known as “text neck” as well as forward head posture. Being in this flexed forward position for hours daily puts such a strain on our neck, upper back and head, that it’s causing premature wear and tear on spines. We’ve seen 20-year old patients in our office with cervical spines that look like a 50-year old.
So what can you do? Set limits with yourself and your cell phone usage. Take breaks from your phone and do some stretching and be sure to hold your phone in front of your face, not downward.
Proper computer posture and ergonomics are ESSENTIAL, especially if you work daily from a computer. If you have poor posture on your computer (pictured below), you may not develop back pain, neck pain or headaches initially, but I can assure you that it will come later down the road.
Prolonged sitting in a poor position produces what we call micro-trauma, which is small trauma on the spine. This compiles 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 160 hours a month. After one year, you’ve sat in this horrible position for nearly 2,000 hours! This poor position strains the spine, muscles and ligaments, causing them to tighten and weaken. This puts you at risk for MANY spinal conditions that often take many weeks to treat.
So, what can you do? Get a standing desk! Stand an hour, sit an hour. MOVE. Take stretching breaks every hour, for 1-3 minutes where you stand up and stretch your neck and back (set an alarm on your phone/computer). Drink water! If you’re drinking over half your body weight in ounces of water, you’re going to have to go to the bathroom, which means you’ll be getting up and moving around often!
So, are you performing any of these habits every day? Today is the day to make a CHANGE, take charge not only of your spinal health, but your overall health. Because, if we don’t have our health, what do we have?
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