In a recent study thousands of people were asked whether they would rather suffer from a back problem or a brain problem. Every single individual responded that they would choose to suffer from a back related issue.
People tend to assume that even severe back problems present less of a health challenge than brain problems because the brain regulates so many aspects of life and health. However research is showing that dysfunction of the spine directly impacts the brain. Research shows that if you have a back problem, it is a brain problem.
World Spine Day is October 16th, and its purpose is to increase the awareness of the crucial role your spine plays. We are designed to be hunter-gatherer athletes; and because most of us are not there is an epidemic of spinal and brain problems in our society.
10 Daily Habits for Optimal Spinal & Brain Function
Keep movin’ movin’ movin’
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘Approximately 3.2 million deaths each year are attributable to insufficient physical activity’ (source)
Human bodies need to move; there’s no denying it.
But it’s not just a matter of life and death – your spine also suffers due to lack of activity.
Regular movement – daily walking, dancing, enjoyable sports, swimming – keeps you limber. It decreases inflammation, supports healthy lymphatic flow and function, keeps muscles and ligaments strong and the spine supported plus reduces pain and stiffness.
Need help to get moving?Chat to us next time you’re here for your visit. We can help you put one foot in front of the other in a way that works for you.
2. Be a posture ninja
Get vigilant, catch yourself in the act of slouching and commit to straightening up. We’ve written all about the benefits of good posture before, but it’s worth repeating. Maintaining good posture is the #1 thing you can do to protect your spine, moment to moment.
Here’s an easy way to think about it: keep your ear, shoulder and hip lined up neatly.
3. Dream of good posture
How do you sleep?
Chiropractors generally recommend sleeping on your back or side as opposed to your stomach.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a quality pillow and mattress – firm but supportive – and for perfect spinal/pelvic alignment you can also pop a pillow between your knees overnight.
Studies suggest that insufficient sleep and interacting with electronic devices at bedtime is associated with increased neck and back problems.
4. Get creative in your cubicle
Did you know that New Zealand office workers spend up to 70% of their day sitting? That’s a whole lot of hours folded up, inactive.
To prevent the risks associated with being sedentary, it’s time to think outside the box (or, cubicle).
- make sure management has invested time (and money) in ergonomic furniture
- maintain good seated posture
- for every 30 minutes spent sitting, have a posture break for 30-60 seconds. This means hold on to the back of your chair and stretch your chest forward whilst taking in a big breath.
- consider a standing desk, the ideal ratio is standing three times longer than sitting
- try ‘walking meetings’ instead of seated chats in the boardroom
5. Get to the Core of It
Your core muscles are three layers of muscle that wrap around your spine and help keep it in alignment.
The stronger these muscles are, the stronger your spine is and generally the better your posture. Check out our guide on how to improve yours.
6. Stay Limber
Even if you have a active job, you most likely don’t get to your full range of motion (unless you are reversing the car!).
Simple spinal stretches includes rotating, bending sideways and bending forward and backward. Do all of these movements in three areas of your spine: Neck, upper back and lower back.
Spend 5 minutes or more everyday doing simple spinal exercises, ask your chiropractor for a print out.
7. Keep Hydrated
Contrary to popular belief, simply drinking water when you are thirsty is not good advice when it comes to properly hydrating the body.
Your body is 60% water, with an even higher percentage in your muscles and spinal discs (the cushions between each of your spinal segments).
Once you’re thirsty the muscles that support your spine are starting to look more like raisins than plump grapes, and the discs are becoming deflated.
Check out our advice on how much to drink and the many functions of water in your body.
8. Wholesome food isn’t just for hippies
Besides the obvious: sitting up straight, standing tall, not lifting and twisting, nutrition also plays a vital role in spinal health.
A wholesome diet high in fresh, seasonal, colourful produce and low in inflammatory fast food, bad fats and refined sugar will support your entire body – back included.
The right foods nourish and heal; decreasing inflammation, pain and the risk of disease.
What does this look like? There are no strict rules, but you can’t go wrong with oodles of veggies and fruit, non-processed meats and seafood (if you eat it), whole dairy (if you’re not allergic), nuts, seeds and a slice of soul food thrown in occasionally.
If it comes in a packet, leave it on the shelf.
9. Be a lifelong learner
Learning new things (whether physical or mental) sparks new brain cells and increases the brains ability to change and adapt throughout life.
Learning can be anything from getting a degree, doing the weekend crossword, learning to salsa, play the ukulele or problem solving DIY work!
10. Pay it forward
The best way to nurture the next generation of spines? Educate your kids.
The habits we cultivate as children stick with us for life: encourage your little ones to stay healthy, active and properly aligned.
The brain and spine combine to form the nervous system and the nervous system regulates the health of the body. Chiropractic care improves the brain and the health of the entire body by locating and correcting small and subtle misalignments commonly in the spine called subluxations. Subluxations always alter brain and autonomic nervous system function.
At Chiropractic Balance we encourage people of all ages to get regular spinal ‘check-ups’ as the majority people (including the very young) do not have optimal spinal function. Our modern lifestyle does not look much like the life our body is designed for.
A healthy spine walks hand in hand with a healthy brain so when you combine small daily actions together with Chiropractic care, you give yourself a much best chance of having not only optimal spine function but also optimal brain health!