Not every lower backache, neck pain, headache or joint stiffness is a sign of something serious, but it may cause some concern. As the saying goes: “Better safe than sorry”, so it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your spine since it provides support for your whole body, protects your nerves and allows you to move and stay active. Knowledge is power, so the more you know about your spine, the better you can take care of it. Combining knowledge with how to maintain a healthy spine with regular chiropractic care will ensure that not only your spine, but your overall health, is kept in good shape.
About Your Spine
Let’s start with some spine basics, so you understand the very important role it plays in your body. Your spine is a column of bones that creates our body’s central support structure. It’s what keeps us upright and connects the different parts of our skeleton to each other: our head, chest, pelvis, shoulders, arms and legs.
Your spine is made up of 33 vertebrae which are separated by discs. These discs anchor your vertebrae together, and act like ‘shock absorbers‘ and provide flexibility as you move. The most flexible part of your spine is your neck, which makes sense if you think about how important head and neck mobility is for daily functioning. The lower vertebrae are the ones that have more weight to carry, so they are larger and more stable than the top vertebrae.
The bones that make up the spine also protect the spinal cord, which runs through the spinal canal. It is the spinal cord that connects and relays all the information between your brain to muscles of the skeleton and internal organs. Spinal nerves also carry sensory information like touch, pressure, cold, warmth, pain and other sensations from the skin, muscles, joints and internal organs to the brain via the spinal cord. The spinal cord and the brain are what make up the central nervous system.
Simply stated: We are our bodies, the core of our body is the skeleton, and the core of our skeleton is our spine.
Maintaining a Healthy Spine
“If you would seek health, look first to the spine.” – Socrates
Spine health is one of those things that people don’t notice until it’s gone. Now that we know how important the spine is, it’s easy to understand that if it isn’t working correctly, problems can manifest from head to toe! Fortunately, keeping your spine healthy is made a lot easier with regular chiropractic care.
Similar to the preventative care provided by medical doctors, periodic visits to your chiropractor will optimize your spine’s health and help detect any issues that you may not be aware of. Your chiropractor will evaluate and adjust your spine as needed and guide you on how to prevent wear and tear or injury between appointments. Some of the ways you can partner with your chiropractor on keeping your spine healthy are:
1. Getting Regular Chiropractic Care –Depending on your specific condition you may need to see a chiropractic once a month or even once a week. If your spine is healthy and you don’t experience any back or joint pain, we recommend that you still get a check-up at least once every few months to address any issues before they affect your function and health.
2. Increasing Circulation – While chiropractic care doesn’t prevent the wear and tear on your spine that daily life brings, it can do a lot to heal that damage. Spinal adjustments help increase circulation to your spinal discs and surrounding tissues. Increased circulation carries healthy nutrients and removes waste material from your spine, making it possible for your spine to revitalize more thoroughly than without good circulation.
3. Staying Active – You’ll hear it over and over when you visit your chiropractor: Keep moving! Not only that, they’ll say to keep moving even when you have back pain. Lack of exercise and movement combined with poor posture can cause core weakness, muscle strain, stress, inflammation and structural dysfunction, so regular exercise and good posture are essential for spine health.
4. Decreasing Pain – If back or joint pain does occur, it can most likely be alleviated with chiropractic. In many cases it will eliminate the need for drugs or painkillers. When there is back trouble, chiropractic adjustments and proper movement education relieve the stiffness that prevents movement and help relieve pain naturally. By returning your spine to proper alignment, circulation is increased, pain is decreased, muscles release and mobility returns.
5. Following a Wellness Program – Your Chiropractor will recommend that you maintain a healthy spine by following their wellness program that includes good nutrition, ergonomics, exercises, stress reduction, inflammation prevention and ways to enhance your well-being.
By taking these important self-care steps, implementing spinal care best practices and working closely with your chiropractor, you should be able keep your spine healthy and well for years to come.