In this post, I’ll delve into three crucial habits that can help you maintain a healthy spine and prevent common back problems. Whether you spend long hours sitting at a desk, lifting heavy objects, or leading an active lifestyle, incorporating these habits into your daily routine can make a significant difference in preserving the health of your spine for years to come.

1….Habit of Optimal Alignment:

Cultivate an awareness of your posture and make a mental note how small adjustments alter the position of your spine and the tension in your spinal muscles.

Whether sitting, standing, or moving, be mindful of your posture and make small corrections throughout the day to reduce strain on spinal structures and facilitate self-healing.

For example:

  • Try aligning your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles vertically when standing.
  • Practice subtly shifting your weight forward, back and side to side as you stand. Notice which parts of your feet are in contact with the ground as you move- you might notice that you tend to put most of your weight on the left or the right side, or on the front or back regions of your feet.
  • As you shift your weight, feel your spinal muscles with your fingers. Note how small shifts in your position changes the muscular tension.
  • When you sit, practice tilting your pelvis forward and back. Notice which position feels most comfortable. Ideally you will be positioned somewhere between full forward tilt and full backward tilt, avoiding being at end-range in either direction.

Developing these habits requires ongoing effort and mindfulness, but over time they can become second nature, helping to reduce the risk of back pain and improve your overall spinal health.

2….Habit of Movement Variety:

Some postures are better than others when it comes to spinal health, but as we say in the physio profession…… ‘the best posture is the next posture’.

Avoid prolonged periods in any one posture. When you are forced to maintain one posture for a long time (e.g. sitting at work), balance out that posture by changing position, stretching and moving.

Variety of movement helps to prevent muscle imbalances and maintains joint mobility.

For example:

  • If you sit for long periods, balance this out by going for a short walk. Alternatively, try doing ‘the cobra’ exercise on the floor, or simply standing up and arching backwards.
  • If you spend a lot of time slumped over a computer, regularly left your arms above your head and stretch upwards, straightening out your spine.
  • If you spend a lot of time standing or walking, you could lie down and pull your knees to your chest or sit down and stretch down towards the floor.

Embrace the concept of “motion is lotion” as you incorporate simple movements into your daily routine. Consistency is key to improving mobility and reducing stiffness over time.

By consistently practicing spinal movement variety, you can help reduce the risk of injury and enhance your overall quality of life.

3….Habit of Lifelong Learning:

Finally, embrace the habit of lifelong learning to deepen your understanding of spinal health and movement science.

Stay curious and open-minded, seeking out new information and insights online from experts like Dr Stuart McGill, Dr Kelly Starrett and Shirley Sahrmann.

Continuously refine your approach to self-care of your spine, incorporating evidence-based practices and innovative techniques to optimise your health and well-being.

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