Improving spine health | 30-min Pilates session for spine mobility
Maintaining good spine health is vital to our everyday overall health and ability to function; 80% of adults in the UK will experience back pain at some point in their lives which is the leading cause of job-related disability. Improving spine health and non-specific low back pain can often be improved by simply being more aware of your body and posture and practising better body mechanics when undertaking daily tasks and activities.
Looking after your spine
Lift correctly - Lifting incorrectly can place a massive strain on the spine. The best way to lift is to stand as close to the object as you can and keeping your back in a neutral position use your core, legs and knees to lift rather than your back or upper body.
Keep hydrated - Staying hydrated is important for overall body health to maintain elasticity in the body's soft tissue and fluidity in the joints. The intervertebral discs, the spine's shock absorbers that sit between each vertebra, can loose their thickness and height when we become dehydrated making the spine more vulnerable to wear and tear and injury.
Sleep well - The night is when the body rehydrates the intervertebral discs; the tissue in the discs gets replenished when the body rests and can restore itself. Once rehydrated, the discs become plump and have their cushioning qualities again. They become the same size, consistency and shape the vertebrae need for your body to make basic motions. If you do suffer from lower back pain, it widely considered that the best position in which to sleep is on your back as this distributes the weight along the entire spine. Placing a pillow under your knees will help to maintain the natural curve of the spine.
Maintain a health weight - Excess weight, especially around the mid-line, can put extra strain on the ligaments, joints and muscles of the spine.
Be aware of your posture - Whether we are sitting, standing or lying, our spine needs to support us. Making our environment more ergonomic to the needs of our spine can help to reduce the aches and pains caused poor posture. Think about where you spend the most time - your work desk, car, sofa and bed - how friendly are they to you spine? Is your chair the correct height allowing your knees to be at 90 degrees? Is your computer screen at eye-height so that you are not constantly looking down or up which can cause neck and shoulder issues? Do you cradle the phone between your ear and your shoulder? Do you have lower back support? Is your mattress giving you the support you need?
Keep moving - Being flexible helps you to retain good functional movement. A gentle daily stretch routine can help to get the spine moving in the morning and warm up the muscles for the day's activities. Keeping active helps to ensure that the muscles that support and move the spine can do their job and because Pilates is a low impact activity that focuses on good alignment, it is an ideal activity to improve and maintain spine health. Click here or on the image to access my 30-min Pilates session for spinal mobility that focuses on strengthening and mobilising the muscles that move and support the back.
Although back pain can be common, it can by a sign of a more serious condition. Don't ignore spinal problems or pain and seek medical advice when needed.