What is spinal hygiene? Spinal hygiene consists of several aspects. To take care of your spine, the 206 bones that support your body from birth to death, you must address the mental, physical and chemical aspects of health. All three contribute to the state of your body overall and to your spine specifically.
The easiest to grasp, for most people, is the physical aspect, which means exercise. There are three main areas of exercise that must be addressed: flexibility, strength and cardiovascular endurance. It takes all three of these to maintain a healthy spine. Without physical exercise, the human body loses strength, range of motion and endurance.
It is important to workout with resistance training. This helps to maintain muscle strength. The muscles then pull on the bones and bones react by becoming stronger and thicker. This helps to avoid osteoporosis, a disease that is characterized by bone loss and then bone fractures.
As your body builds strength it loses flexibility. It is very important to stretch all muscles. Having flexibility helps to avoid injury. Having flexibility helps to keep the muscles ready for movement.
Cardiovascular endurance is very important, not just for the heart and circulatory system, but for the entire body. It is what allows the blood to deliver nutrients and remove waste from cells. Doing aerobic activity means more than a leisurely walk. You want to sweat and get your heart rate at least up to 60% of you max heart rate ((220-age) x .60), but not higher then 80-90% of your max.
Mental health has an impact on spinal health as well. When worry, anger, anxiety, etc., are not released in some way they are held in the body and can show up as back pain, muscle spasm and subluxation. Having a way to take care of your self mentally is very important. Meditation, yoga, relaxation, therapy, talking to friends, and having good boundaries are all ways to enhance spinal hygiene.
The chemical aspect of spinal hygiene refers to what you put in your body, your nutrition. The saying is true: you are what you eat. Our bodies require many vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy. In our society we get the macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but we are craving the micronutrients that can be found in fruits and vegetables. Our Bones and all the metabolic processes that go on in our bodies, micronutrients are required. Something so common as a cola actually pulls calcium out of our bones.
A chiropractor can do an assessment to determine your level of spinal hygiene. One aspect of a chiropractic exam is to feel the motion of each vertebra. If the bones are not moving properly, they will degenerate at a very quick rate, blood will not be able to get to the area, exercise may irritate the area, stress may be held in the area, nerves may be irritated and pain may be felt. Through a thorough chiropractic history and spinal exam, recommendations can be made as to physical, mental and chemical changes that need to take place to maintain or attain proper spinal hygiene.
By our choices everyday we move away from or toward health and wellness. Choosing wisely enhances well-being and allows us to get the most out of our lives.