The importance of taking care of your spine
The spine column is probably one of the most important parts of the human body, often being dubbed the ‘backbone of life’. The spine has multiple purposes mainly being your body’s central support structure, connecting different parts of your musculoskeletal system. In essence your spine aids in most facets of your life being standing, walking, twisting, bending and siting. Without this backbone humans would cease to exist.
The spine consists of many different parts including the vertebrae, a series of small bones that form the spinal canal, facet joints made of small cartilages allowing the vertebrae to slide on one another, intervertebral disks that act as shock absorbers, and finally the spinal cord acting as a messenger between the brain and the body’s muscles (Cramer, 2017). The spinal cord has a pivotal function within the body, with injuries often being catastrophic. If severed one would lose all movement and sensation below the injury (Cheriyan, 2014). In other words the health of the spine is fundamental in order to live a happy, confident and active life which needs to be taken care of, especially from a young age.
How can we keep our spines healthy?
As we have seen the importance of keeping, not only yours but your loved ones spines healthy cannot be emphasized enough. The main ways we can do this is by strengthening the back muscles surrounding the spine, which is important to instil from a very young age. The best way to build and maintain good back strength is by:
Performing exercises a couple times a week in order to strengthen your back and reduce overall back pain.
Ensure one has a strong core by exercising abdominal muscles. The importance of a strong core works hand in hand with the spine. Having a strong core not only ensures good posture, but also improves balance and reduces back pain.
Always remember to bend your knees and keep your back straight when lifting heavy items. Making sure you use your leg muscles as they are far stronger than your back muscles.
Maintain a good and healthy weight, often unwanted additional weight specifically around the belly and back causes unnecessary strain on both muscles and ligaments. If one stays within 5kg of their ideal weight the risk of having upper and lower back pain decreases significantly.
Finally, and possibly the most simple but important part of maintaining good spinal health is to always maintain a good posture.
Importance of a good posture and spinal health
Having a good posture involves correctly aligning and balancing the three main curves of the spine, the lower curve (lumbar curve), mid-back curve (thoracic curve) and the curve at the neck (cervical curve), in order to achieve the perfect ‘S’ shape. Much like anything kept in balance; it proves more efficient, which is exactly the same for posture. If one is able to perform the correct balance in posture, the muscles and joints throughout the body are able to perform efficiently and effectively (Wang, 2016). Too often however people think that maintaining a good posture only involves both walking and standing, and seem to neglect the fact that good posture when sitting and laying down is just as important if not more important as we spend more time doing these.
Much like any bad habit in life, it is extremely hard to get out that habit. Poor posture works exactly the same, often we get so used to having the incorrect posture that trying to fix seems near to impossible. Unfortunately one gets so accustom to years of having the incorrect posture, and trying to maintain the correct posture isn’t always easy. It is paramount that the correct posture be implemented from a very young age, because just like a bad habit, a good habit is just as hard to kick (Yamak, 2018).
Cramer, G. D., & Darby, S. A. (2017). Clinical anatomy of the spine, spinal cord, and ANS-e-book.
Cheriyan, T., Ryan, D. J., Weinreb, J. H., Cheriyan, J., Paul, J. C., Lafage, V., ... & Errico, T. J. (2014). Spinal cord injury models: a review. Spinal cord, 52(8), 588-595.
Wang, C. (2016). Good Posture and its Wealth of Benefits to the Workplace. Lumo Bodytech.
Yamak, B., İmamoğlu, O., İslamoğlu, İ., & Çebi, M. (2018). The effects of exercise on body posture. Electronic Turkish Studies, 13(18).
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