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Do These 3 Things to Keep Your Spine Healthy

1. When getting out of bed (or anytime you’re lying down on your back), make sure you roll to your side FIRST, then use your arms to push yourself up.

Why? Sit ups (or similar movements) impose extremely large compression forces on the discs and vertebrae of the spine, especially in your lower back. The U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has set the action limit (maximum allowed in safe working range) for low back compression at 750lbs. and repetitive loading above this level is linked with higher injury rates in workers. Compression readings above this limit are imposed on the spine with each sit up repetition.

2. When you have to sit for extended periods of time (desk, driving, homework), make sure you keep the curve in the small of your back. You can do this in your car with the lumbar support and adding a small pillow or rolled up towel to support your lower back.

Why? Slouching in your lower back puts a lot of abnormal stress on the discs, ligaments, tendons and joints. When we maintain the curve in that area, it allows the forces to be spread out equally throughout our spine and tissues to minimize damage from sitting (although it’s still not a great position).

3. Sleep on your side using a knee pillow and supportive neck pillow to keep your spine aligned OR sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees and a neck pillow to support your neck curve.

Why? Side sleeping is a great way to minimize nerve and joint stress while you sleep (1/3 of your life!). A knee pillow minimizes hip rotation and lumbar strain, and a supportive neck pillow keeps pressure off nerves that go to your arms. If you wake up with arm/hand numbness, tingling or weakness, you likely don’t have the proper pillow. Back sleeping is 2nd best: use a pillow to elevate your knees (takes pressure off joints between pelvis and lower back) and make sure your neck curve is being supported.
DON’T SLEEP ON YOUR STOMACH! With your neck turned and extended, it puts a huge amount of pressure on your neck joints and nerves, and is also very hard on your lower back.

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