Your spine has two vital functions. First of all, it keeps you on the straight and narrow, so to speak; it is the ‘rod’ that allows you to hold your upper body up straight. It is aligned like no other mammal on earth, in that it has a very subtle ‘S’ shape to it. All other vertebrates have backbones that are either as straight as a ruler, or as curved as a pretzel. The ‘S’ shape is just right for human beings, allowing us to both bend at the hips and reach for the stars!
The other important function of the human spine, or backbone, or vertebral column, is to protect our spinal cord. This ‘rope’ of nerves and lymphatic tissue is what connects our brain to the rest of our body. If you snap or injure the cord at any place along the spine, you disable, usually permanently, a good part of your body. The higher up on the spine the injury occurs, the more severe the damage is. When someone breaks their neck in an accident, it usually means they will no longer have control of their body below their neck – a grim reminder that spinal health and safety are of paramount importance!
Health blogs can offer some sound advice when it comes to keeping your spine healthy:
• Pregnant women should beware of lordosis, or ‘swayback’ – a common condition when carrying a baby to full term. This condition can stretch spinal muscles in the wrong direction and take months to repair after childbirth. A few simple exercises, involving touching your toes and stretching your arms up to the ceiling, along with a full hour’s rest on your back during the day, are usually enough to prevent this condition from continuing after your baby is born. Sitting in a rocking chair has also been shown to be helpful, as well as relaxing!
• The notorious ‘dowager’s hump’, medically known as kyphosis, afflicts nearly 60% of women over the age of seventy. It is usually caused by osteoporosis, and once it manifests itself there is very little that can be done to reverse it. The best option is to make sure you obtain plenty of calcium while you’re young, and throughout your life. Calcium supplements often cause indigestion and gas, and so many doctors now recommend a generous portion of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, each day, as well as the standard dairy products. One often overlooked source of calcium is canned sardines; one can of sardines contains as much easily digestible calcium as six slices of American cheese. Plus, sardines are chock full of anti-oxidants as well!
• Lower back pain, often grouped under the general term ‘sciatica’, afflicts nearly half of Americans over the age of fifty. It is often caused by an inflamed coccyx, the very end bone of your spine. Ours is an age of sitting, both for work and for pleasure in front of our TV’s and computers. The human spine was never made to take that much pressure for that long on just the ‘tail bone’. If you must sit for most of the day, invest in an ergonomic back pillow; they can be had at any pharmacy or large box store such as Target or Walmart. These foam rubber devices fit snugly behind your lower back, gently pushing it out so the muscles and tendons can stretch and maintain their elasticity.
This blog post has been submitted by RB Spine Center, a full-service pain management medical office with locations throughout the San Diego area, including the prestigious Rancho Bernardo chiropractic office. Get quality care for chronic pain or an injury by booking an appointment today. Visit rbspinecenter.com to learn more.