6 Ways to Love Your Spine from the Bottom-Up!
Claire - May 8, 2014
Your spine is one of the most amazing structures in your body and we generally take for granted all it does for us. Your spine has 4 major functions, all of them are extremely important for us to maintain our health and vitality.
Stability – without it we would not be able to walk upright.
Flexibility – its complex structure allows us not only to be rigid enough to walk upright, but also flexible enough to touch our toes, twist around to grab something behind us and bend backwards.
The third function of the spine is to protect your spinal cord without impinging on its function and the final function is to provide nourishment and energy to your brain through movement.
All these functions are vital for life, so finding ways to love your spine will only increase your level of health.
1. Looking after the foundation
If you look down at the bottom of your legs you are likely to find a pair of feet at the end. Here could be the beginnings some major issues for your spine. Many people tend to neglect their feet without realising how much this can impact your entire health. Wearing the wrong sort of footwear can cause significant imbalances in your spine. This is often highlighted with women wearing high heels and how this shortens the Achilles tendon and putting pressure on the L5 disc, but even built up runners can cause some serious issues. Wearing rigid built up shoes inhibits proper movement through the foot, which in turn, changes the way we walk or run. This change in gait can have a significant effect on the angle of the pelvis and cause a loss of normal curve in the lumbar spine.
Spending time barefoot and wearing zero drop/minimalist/barefoot shoes helps to correct your gait and encourage the spine back into its normal position.
2. Move it
Moving your spine is so vitally important. Your brain, central nervous system and spinal joints don’t really have much of a blood supply to them. All these structures are nourished and energised by movement. Movement of the spine encourages the flow of cerebral spinal fluid around the brain and spinal cord, flushing waste from neurons and replenishing them with vital nutrients and oxygen. In all vertebrate animals increased movement equates to higher intelligences due to this process.
There are 2 ways the spine requires movement, the first is globally. This is moving the whole spine in all different directions. The second is segmentally, the movement of each individual vertebra. The first is vital for the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, the second to stop the spine from decaying and allow free nerve flow from the brain to your body’s vital organs, like your heart, liver and lungs.
Daily yoga is one of the most holistic ways to work on global spinal movement. You will notice that every single class involves forward bends, back bends, side bends and twists. Putting your spine through its full range of motion this way feeds your brain, reduces stress and increases you ability to learn.
Chiropractic adjustments are designed to move the spine segmentally, ensuring every joint in the spine is capable of its full range of motion. Adjustments also take the pressure of both the spinal cord and the nerves exiting the spinal column freeing up communication between the brain and vital organs.
3. Feed it
The spine is a complex beast of bone and ligaments, tendons, collagen, nerve fibres and fluid. Movement is the transport system to get the nutrients into it, but all its nutritional requirements need to come through your diet. So what sort of building blocks would make a healthy spine?
There are a few aspects of diet that can affect your spine. These are:
The inflammatory rating of the food;
Vitamin and mineral components;
Fat and protein content.
An example of a spine superfood is the humble oyster. Oysters are full of essential minerals for building bone, they are highly anti-inflammatory, they contain loads of omega 3’s for healthy nerves and protein for building muscles, ligaments and cartilage. Another great spine food is old fashioned bone broth. It has the same properties as oysters and is very healing on the gut as well.
4. Rest it
At night, as we lay down at night and shut our eyes our entire body does some amazing healing from the damage we do in normal day to day life. This includes the spine. During sleep all the discs between each vertebra rehydrate, the little intra-spinal muscles relax and a whole lot of regeneration occurs. Proper deep sleep in a good bed with an individually fitted chiropractic pillow allows blood and nerve supply to flow freely around your spine to aid healing and growth.
5. Think about your posture
As we mentioned, your spine is designed to flex and move in all different directions. It was never really designed to hold one position for hours and hours on end, be it sitting at a computer or standing at a work station. Unfortunately with our modern lifestyle and working requirements this is exactly what we find our selves doing, day in and day out. To combat the impact of holding these positions there are a few things you can do to look after your spine. The first is set a timer so that every 20 mins you get up, walk on the spot or around your chair, do a squat or two. All this gets the cerebrospinal fluid moving and re-energising your brain. The second thing is to have some level of consciousness about your posture. Is each bone stacked nicely on the one below? Is your head over your shoulders or is it hanging out the front of your body? Is your lower back slouched into the chair or is there a nice forward curve in it? Are you hanging out to the left or the right?
Our Bonfire Chiropractors are masters at helping correct people’s postures by removing their subluxations and offering specific tips on ways to support the spine as you work.
6. Watch what you think
Your brain is THE most powerful organ you have – and it can work for you, or against you depending on what stance (or habit) you find yourself in in regards your thoughts.
There is an increasing body of research on how what you think effects the physical health of your body. It can almost seem like some sort of esoteric magic, but let’s look at in a really simple way.
If you are feeling stressed, how does your body respond? Are you loose and flexible or tight and rigid? How would this effect your spines range of motion? But stress is not the only emotion that can effect your spine, what about the slump of sadness, the rigid post of anger, the slouch of unlovability…
The great thing is our feelings are only products of our thoughts. How we choose to look at life can change how we feel about it and therefore change our posture, our movements and our over all health.
With these six tips, you have the ability to not only love your spine, but enhance your health potential.
Healthy Spine, Healthy Life!