Believe it or not, your spine is one of the most important parts of your body. It’s connected to many surrounding muscles, bones, and ligaments and allows you to move around and be flexible. Sometimes though, we don’t take care of our spine as much as we should, especially when it comes to using proper posture and alignment. Below you’ll find more information about why taking care of your spine is crucial and some ways you can improve your posture and alignment.
The Anatomy of the Spine
The spine is made up of three different sections: cervical, thoracic, and lumbar. The cervical portion is at the top of the spine near the base of your head. The thoracic section in the middle of your spine and is made up of 12 vertebrae. The lower portion of your spine is the lumbar which features five vertebrae and connects to your pelvis. The vertebrae in your spine are made of small joints that face both up and down. These connect together to help provide flexibility in the spine. In between each of these vertebrae are discs which prevent the bones from rubbing together.
What Causes Poor Posture and Alignment?
There are a handful of things that could cause poor posture and alignment.
- Excessive weight
- Wearing poorly supportive or worn-out shoes
- Carrying heavy objects around often, especially with bad form
- Texting (text neck!)
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Exercising incorrectly
Common Symptoms of Poor Posture and Alignment
Poor posture and alignment can cause various problems, including back pain, but some others may be more surprising to you:
- Muscle fatigue
- Poor digestion
- Hip pain
- Numbness and tingling in your fingers and toes
- Trouble breathing
Why Its Important to Take Care of Your Spine
- Preventing strain: Spinal strain isn’t only uncomfortable, but could make it difficult for you to move around freely. By making sure to watch how you lift things, sit, sleep, and walk, you can prevent strain which could otherwise injure the vertebrae and discs in your spine.
- Using correct posture: Another reason why it’s important to take care of your spine is because it helps you to use correct posture. This will then help your spine maintain its natural curve, which can help prevent and alleviate back pain and pinched nerves.
- Preventing muscle weakness: If your spine isn’t cared for, it can create weakness in the muscles around it. Because of this, you might find it hard to move around and be flexible. Taking care of your spine prevents this because it ensures that the surrounding muscles are healthy and strong. It also encourages you to be more energetic because your body won’t feel worn out from aches, pains, and strains.
Top Ways to Improve Posture and Alignment
Below are some methods you can use if you’d like to improve your posture and alignment.
- Use lumbar support: Many of us tend to sit for long periods of time, and when we do, we often slouch. Due to this, it’s ideal to use lumbar support tools. You’ll find plenty of different options to use, such as lumbar support pillows. These cushions come in a handful of designs and can either be sat on or placed near the lower portion of your spine. This is meant to help keep your spine aligned while also making it comfortable for you to sit. You might also look to use a pillow with lumbar support for when you sleep. This can keep you from sleeping in positions that might cause pain or tension in your spine.
- Consult a medical professional: Whether it’s preventative or due to a current issue, you should always consult a medical professional to find a treatment plan that is right for you. One option is to visit a chiropractor, who can help improve your posture and alignment. A chiropractor will do a quick assessment of your spine to see where there might be problematic areas. Afterward, your chiropractor will then use their hands and multiple tools to do spinal manipulations. These manipulations work to stop inflammation in an area of concern while also realigning other body parts. Eventually, you will find that your spine not only feels great, but is much more flexible as well.
- Do spinal exercises: Another way to help improve your posture and alignment is to do spinal exercises. One to do is the bridge exercise. This requires you to lie on your back while keeping your knees slightly bent. You then want to use your back to gently lift your hips while on the floor. You’ll need to keep this position for about five seconds before lowering yourself back to the ground. Once you do so, repeat this process about ten times.
- Choose your shoes wisely: If you wear certain types of shoes, like high heels, they can wreak havoc on your posture and alignment. Your shoes should work to support the natural curve in the bottom of your feet. Otherwise, this can cause tension in your lower back and lead to foot pain. To help prevent this, watch the shoes you wear and make sure they are able to support your feet well. You might also look to invest in inserts which you can be placed inside your shoes to help with keeping your spine aligned.
- Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can cause spinal strain. This can lead to you bending your spine in awkward positions to help reduce the irritation and pain in it. Because of this, make sure to drink plenty of water daily. This can keep fluid moving between your vertebrae. It can also work to prevent the development of bulging discs. It’s vital that you watch your posture and alignment to help keep your spine in good health. Otherwise, you might find yourself not able to move around as freely as you might like and could even suffer from severe pain or other health issues. If you want to make sure that you use correct posture and alignment for your spine, definitely make sure to keep the information listed above in mind.
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is the founder of Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice offers professional Wasilla massage therapy, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and other various services designed to help give you long-lasting relief from different health problems.