Chiropractic care is designed to help you feel better, function better, and get the most out of your life. And while it is important to follow the recommendation of your chiropractor and your adjustment schedule, there are a few simple things you can do in your everyday life to help you maintain a healthy spine and ultimately, a healthy life.
People often ask us about the best tips and strategies to help them prevent spine injuries. One of the best things you can do to have a healthy spine and a high performing nerve system is to exercise and stretch your spinal muscles and joints regularly. These are simple exercises and stretches that don’t require too much time or space and can be done constantly during your day.
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Spinal exercises and stretches can be very helpful in reducing the negative impact of your everyday stresses like sitting for long periods of time, bad posture, mental stress, and improper lifting techniques when exercising to name a few.
Strengthening your spinal muscles and your abdominal region in particular, can go a long way to prevent spinal injuries.
While each of our practice members receives individualized exercise instructions for their specific condition, the following exercise tips apply to everyone.
1. Don’t Skip the Warmup!
Before starting any exercise, it’s very important to warm up. A series of dynamic moves will boost your heart rate and heat up the muscles that you will be using during your work out.
Select whole body movements such as leg lunges paired with arm motion, or walk in place while raising and lowering your arms. Trunk twists are another good warmup movement. Start these slow and easy, and then increase the intensity as you increase your heart rate and activate your muscles.
Once you’ve warmed up, you can safely stretch and exercise with minimal risk of injury.
I would recommend for you to make a habit of doing a series warmup movements right after you wake up each day as well. This will activate your spine and nerve system, and help you to put your best foot forward as you start your day.
2. Focus on Ergonomics at Work and at Home
One of the most important exercise tips for our practice members is to take steps to keep your body in alignment as you move through your day. In your workplace, check with an ergonomics consultant to ensure proper positioning, especially if you spend most of the day seated or doing repetitive tasks.
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Sitting is a major cause of spinal stress and injury. We often cannot avoid sitting, but you can reduce the negative effects of sitting with some common sense, proactive measures.
Make sure that your computer monitor is elevated enough so that your eye level is at the center of the monitor. The vast majority of home or office workstations have the monitor too low. With your eyes angled downward, your chin will naturally fall, and lead you to hunch your neck and shoulders. Elevate your monitor to reduce the stress on your spine. If you don’t have access to an ergonomics consultant, utilize a stand or a nice thick book to help achieve this easily.
A comfortable and supportive chair reduces muscle strain and prevents injury. Make sure that your feet sit firmly on the floor, and that lumbar support is in place. Also, make sure that you have properly positioned arm rests on your chair.
All of the above applies at home too. Check the position of your computer or laptop. How high or low is your child’s desk, is the desk chair supportive enough?
As much as interior décor is important, focus on getting supportive furniture. Just because something is soft and cushiony does not mean that it is comfortable for your spine and body. And make sure you don’t compromise your sleep and health by getting the wrong mattress.
3. Wear the Right Shoes
Before you buy your next pair of shoes, check for stability, flexibility, and comfort. During your test drive, make sure that the shoes feel firmly in place as you move through your entire range of motion for a stable gait during wear.
Footwear should be flexible enough to give easily at the base of the toe for a smooth gait, and there should be cushioning at all the right places with plenty of room for the toes to move. Shoes that properly fit your feet mean that your walk will be more natural and healthy during exercise and in daily motion.
4. Sit and Stand With Posture In Mind
Perhaps the biggest reason that these exercise tips for chiropractic patients are so important is that strong and flexible muscles will help you have good posture. Be mindful of the following as you move through your day:
- When sitting, your feet should be on the floor, your shoulders should be relaxed, and your forearms should remain parallel with the ground.
- If you are standing for a time, make sure that you maintain posture by tucking your stomach muscles in and contracting your gluteal muscles.
- When standing for an especially long period of time, be sure to shift your weight from one foot to the other and from the heels to the toes and back again.
These simple tips for maintaining good posture will passively work your muscles and result in a healthier spine.
5. Passive Stretches for Large Muscles
Finally, it is important to target large muscle groups with passive exercises. Use your weight to slowly stretch your hamstrings, your piriformis, and your entire back. Passive stretching is gentle and relieves stress points that cause back pain. These gentle exercises provide a great deal of relief and are easily adjustable to suit your current ability.
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We recommend stretching for at least ten seconds in a row. Take frequent breaks throughout your workday to stretch, and stretch multiple times per day.
It is always easier to prevent a pain flare-up from occurring rather than trying to manage a crisis once it arrives. Regular stretch breaks can help as a preventative measure for potential health problems.
Align Your Spine, Maximize Your Life
The health of your spine is the foundation of your overall health because your spine directly affects the performance of your nervous system. Chiropractors are specialists in improving your spine alignment and restoring your nervous system to optimal function.
Nerve supply is life supply!
Schedule a spinal checkup today to see if chiropractic is right for you.