Maintaining a healthy spine is all about alignment, flexibility and strength. If you can build strength without putting pressure on your alignment, you can hopefully avoid injury. Every action you take during the day can help you build a stronger spine.
Below is a list of spine care tips for you.
Use Plenty of Pillows
If you sleep on your back, look for a pillow you can put under your knees. If your legs are short, or if this just feels awkward, roll a towel and put it in a pillowcase to place under the knees instead.
For side sleepers, a small pillow between the knees can reduce pressure on the hips and low pack. A cervical pillow can protect your neck. It may be tempting to use too large a pillow for side sleepers; instead, try two small ones until you get the best fit.
Many tummy sleepers prefer no pillow at all. Do your best to keep your neck flexible and take breaks so you can keep your upper back and neck loose.
Use Heat Sparingly
If your back does bother you, heat can feel very good. However, too much heat can increase inflammation. Use a timer to protect your back from excessive exposure to heat. For those who suffer from muscle spasms, put heat on the spasming muscle for no more than ten minutes, then take a break.
For example, if your low back is sore or if you struggle with sciatica, use a large plastic Ziploc bag and create a flat ice pack. Put a hand towel or a kitchen towel in the bag and wet it just enough to get it damp. Set this in the freezer until it’s frozen flat. Wrap this in another towel or apply it over a thin piece of fabric for twenty minutes on the low back.
Lay down on your tummy with your chin over the edge of the back, or lay flat on your back with your knees supported. Ice for twenty minutes every two hours to bring down inflammation around the nerve and reduce the risk of a muscle spasm.
When stretching your back, strive to hold good form and to stretch gently. Place your feet further than shoulder width apart and put your hands low on your hips so you can feel the crease. Fold forward from the hips, imagining a straight line of strengths from your tailbone through the top of your head.
Pay special attention to your hamstrings and glutes when stretching your back. Your goal should be to manage the weight of your upper body on the big muscles in your legs and bottom. As you come up, use your hamstrings and glutes to bring the whole spine up to a standing position.
Strength from the Front
Building core strength is one of the best ways to protect your spine from injury. When you walk, stand, or workout, think about pulling your navel back to your spine. As you do so, elevate the rib cage and tighten your bottom. Engaging your core each time you go for a walk is a great habit to get into; if you need to lift something or move suddenly, feeling your core engage automatically will protect you from injury.
Many with low back challenges can’t comfortably do crunches or other abdominal exercises. Find a mat where you can try a modified plank. Roll onto your tummy and lift your upper body onto your elbows. Move your knees apart and try to lift your bottom so you’re balanced on your elbows and knees. You may be more comfortable with your bottom higher than a standard plank. As you get stronger, aim to lower your bottom, then work to bring your knees together.