Your spine is the most essential part of your body, but yet it is given the least attention. People may think that the less you move, the less damage on your body and spine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Spinal degeneration and arthritic changes are one of the fastest growing epidemics in our country, affecting people of all ages, even kids. Researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research and Boston Medical Center have reported that one-third of people 40-59 years have image-based evidence of moderate to severe degenerative disc disease and more than half had moderate to severe spinal osteoarthritis. Beyond that, the prevalence of disc height narrowing and joint osteoarthritis increased 2 to 4 fold in those aged 60-69 and 70-89 respectively. Furthermore, scientists observed that progression of these conditions occurred 40 — 70% more frequently in women than men. Research also shows that 15% of teenagers have spinal degeneration already.
This situation is directly related to a sedentary lifestyle. The body was designed to move to be healthy, yet we are moving less and less. Kids and teens are using handheld devices and/or they are sitting in front of televisions for long periods playing video games instead of doing more physical activity. Adults find themselves sitting behind the wheel of a car, or a desk looking at a computer screen for most of their day. On average, 16 hours are spent awake, and 75% of that time is spent sitting down or looking down.
Our spine is one of the most critical parts of our body, and it provides three main essential functions. It protects the spinal cord and the internal organs, provides structure and balance to maintain an upright posture, and then enables flexible motion. Imagine damaging just one of these functions, let alone all three at the same time. Everything in your life that is important is at risk, including your livelihood, your enjoyment, and the things you value in your life. Yet, most people don’t pay enough attention to the care of their spine. It is commonplace to have bad posture and a sedentary lifestyle. We need to change this and focus on our spine.
We are calling for Spinal Hygiene for everyone! Most people consider dental hygiene and brushing your teeth to be very important, and our goal is to have everyone to view spinal hygiene in the same way. You could lose your teeth and replace them, but you can never replace your spine. You only get one. Here are three simple ways to start implementing spinal hygiene in your life.
GET MOVING! Move your body during the day. Simple walks and breaks from anything you are doing that are sedentary. You can also get what we call a wobble seat to sit on during the day. Specific motion exercises on a wobble disc/seat can substantially improve your motion in your spine and decrease degeneration.
STRETCHING AND EXERCISE ROUTINE. Not only do we need to do proper exercise, but it is important to stretch during the day. Dynamic stretching is best before exercise and in the morning. Dynamic means that you will utilize motion during your stretches. Static stretching (less motion and more “reaching”) is best after exercise and at the end of the day.
GET EVALUATED BY A CORRECTIVE CARE CHIROPRACTOR. Damage may already be in your spine, and a corrective care chiropractor may be able to stop and even reverse this damage. They can also see exactly what home care and spinal hygiene is necessary for each case.