5 Ways to Improve Your Spinal Alignment
If you are suffering from chronic back pain or recovering from a back injury, improving your posture and spinal alignment are great ways to get relief and prevent further damage. Improving your spinal alignment can yield positive benefits on your joints, muscles and nerves throughout your entire body, not just your back.
What is ideal spinal alignment?
Alignment refers to the way your bones fit in relation to one another and to the whole body. Spine experts judge alignment relative to a vertical line that runs through your center. Ideal alignment occurs at the joints when two bones meet at their centers resulting in the least amount of musculoskeletal strain.
How to improve your spinal alignment
The best way to improve your spinal alignment depends on your individual needs and lifestyle. Here are some great options to consider:
- Stretch it out: Make stretching a consistent part of your daily routine. This can be as simple as taking a break to stretch at your desk during the work day or signing up for a yoga class. Yoga can not only help with spine alignment and posture, but it can also help improve your mobility and decrease back pain. It also has mental health benefits to reduce stress. Keep in mind, as with any workout, you should always consult your physician prior to starting anything new.
- Get moving: Regular, low-impact exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent and reduce back pain. Low-impact aerobic exercise helps develop strong abdominal muscles by teaching you proper spinal alignment. The most commonly recommended types of exercise for those who suffer from back pain include swimming, walking, cycling, and using an elliptical exerciser or ski machine.
- Go shoe shopping: The shoes you wear have a significant impact on your spinal alignment. It’s important to choose the right shoes for both your feet and your back. High heels result in a more unstable posture and wearing them should be limited. Flip flops or flat-style shoes like ballet flats can be just as bad for your back because they offer little to no support and can cause stress and strain on your joints and tendons. If you need help selecting what’s best, consult a podiatrist.
- Evaluate your workspace: Whether you have an office job where you sit for long periods of time throughout the day or spend the majority of the day working on your feet, make sure your work area is optimized for you. Depending on the nature of your work, you may want to invest in an ergonomic desk chair, padded floor mat or a stand to bring your computer to eye-level height.
- Catch some Zzz’s: The average person spends one-third of their life sleeping. Your pillow, mattress and sleeping position can all impact your spinal alignment. Whether you prefer to sleep on your side, back or stomach, make sure you choose the right pillow to help maintain the natural curvature of the spine while you sleep. This may mean placing an extra pillow between your legs or under the small of your back. If you’re in the market for a new mattress, you may find this how-to video helpful.
When to contact a physician
In some cases, a condition or back injury may prevent you from being able to correct your spinal alignment on your own. The experts at Pacific Spine Specialists will conduct a complete, mindful assessment to identify the source of your spinal symptoms and recommend the best course of action for treatment. Call 503.885.9391 to schedule an appointment today.