Your Health is in the Details
In just about every aspect of life you could apply the adage that the little things are what matter. And your health is no different. There seems to be a permeating belief by many that health is an event that just happens to me. “I don’t know how this happened; I just work up with it.” I’ll tell you, however, that just the opposite it true. There is always a reason and your present health is the result of past traumas, your habits (past & present; do or don’t have) and your environment.
What about genetics? Recent studies are demonstrating that they are guilty of about 10% of your situation. What’s more is that your habits and environment are responsible for igniting the expression of certain genes or keeping them at bay.
So, if that’s the case here is a list of some of the simple things that have a huge impact on your spine’s health. Simple habits that you can modify and will no longer have a negative impact:
Wallet in back pocket
Men, this one if for you. If you keep that wallet in your back pocket when you are sitting you are raising one side of your pelvis and your spine will have to shift and rotate to balance things out. Over time, your back will get tired, strained and let you know.
Solution – Put it in the front on in the console of your car.
Carrying the weight of the world in your purse can cause imbalances between shoulders resulting in curving and mis-alignments of your spine between your shoulder blades and in your neck. I’ve even seen this be the root of headaches due to the increased muscle tension. Back packs can do the same thing, so use both shoulder straps.
Solution – Leave the kitchen sink at home. And change shoulders often.
Leaving your shoes untied will cause a sloppy interaction when your foot hits the ground. Your body has to shift in your legs, hips and spine accommodate and find stability. Over time the stress patterns of these mechanics can cause tissue fatigue and ultimately pain, often in the lower spine.
Solution – Tie your shoes.
Sitting too long
We are not made to sit. Physically, sitting can cause damage to your spine the more you do it and do it incorrectly. Chemically, sitting becomes a stress around at about 20 minutes. Sitting for longer periods of time is not only related to spine pain and dysfunction but increased mortality. Yikes!
Solution – Get a sit stand desk or a timer to help you change positions regularly
This is similar to the previous one in that it aggressively changes the normal patterns of movement in the body and will put additional strain into the lower back.
Solution – I value my life. I’m not saying anything here.
Sleeping on your belly
Sleeping is tricky because everyone finds comfort in a different position. But sleeping on your belly is the one to avoid at all costs. Your head has to turn to one side or the other. This will put a lot of stress into your neck and shoulders. The longer you do it, the more likely you are to develop bigger long term problems.
Solution – sleep training is tough but work on sleeping on your side or back. You might also need a new bed with more support.
Popping your back or neck
You feel the need to pop your spine because innately your body is telling you that something needs to move. However, repeatedly contorting your body until you get the gratuitous pop can lead to ligament instability. In short over time you risk stretching out the rubber band like ligaments that are there the hold your bones in place. This can lead to instability and the bones breaking done like in osteoarthritis.
Solution – Get evaluated to understand what is causing your need to continually move the joints of your spine and have a professional do it. They have the training to do it correctly and create a permanent solution.
Sitting cross legged
If you have to sit you want to avoid this for much the same reason as you don’t want to sit on a wallet in your back pocket. This can create muscle imbalances and one-sided hip and lower spine mechanic changes leading to your discomfort.
Solution – cross at the ankles
Too much social media (tech neck)
With your head jutted out in front looking down at your device it is not too hard to imagine that this would cause neck pain and even degeneration after a time. On x-ray these necks can look down right scary. Sometimes we see “horns”, or bony projections growing off of the back of the skull from excessive muscle pull.
Solution – until someone comes up with a visual implant to project a hologram of your screen in front of you; limit your time.
I am sure that there are other little habits that can eat away at the health of your spine. These are the one’s that we see a lot of at Inner Vitality. If you think of one, let us know. But also, the opposite is true. There are several little habits that you can routinely do that will promote the health of your spine. Stay tuned for this coming attraction!