World Spine Day

October 16 is World Spine Day

Four things we know about the spine:

1) Everybody has one;

2) Most people experience significant spinal problems at some stage in their lives;

3) Spinal problems have the potential to effect your mental and physical wellbeing, beyond just neck and back pain and;

4) There’s a lot you can do to improve your spinal function and overall wellbeing.

So here’s 7 tips from our 7 practitioners here at Simply Health.

1. Watch your sleeping posture

We spend a third of our lives in bed, so it’s important that we consider our sleep position.  Adults typically don’t do well sleeping on their stomach because the head rotation required to breathe puts stress on the neck and shoulders.  This may result in neck pain.

If you sleep on your back, use a thin pillow under your head to keep the head neutral and a pillow under one or both knees to take pressure off the low back.

If you sleep on your side, choose a pillow that will keep the neck straight and relaxed.  Having a pillow between the knees helps prevent the pelvis from twisting.

Of course, a good quality mattress and pillow make a big difference.  Also avoid blue light stimulation from computer screens or mobile phones 30 minutes before bedtime.  This has been shown to activate an area of the brain called the mesencephalon, which in turn ramps up alertness and the stress response.

2. Make moving fun

Movement is a fundamental key for a healthier life.  It’s best if perpetual movement is simply a part of your lifestyle and not just something you do sometimes because, “It’s good for you.”

Instead of catching up with a friend for coffee; catch up for a walk to the coffee shop.

If movement is fun, then you not only get the social benefits, but you’re also more likely to cement this into your day to day living.

3. Slow down, relax and breathe

It’s a fast paced life we live.  Sometimes, you just have to stop and smell the roses.  In the rat race, even if you win, you’re still just a rat.

4. Avoid ‘Tech Neck’

There’s no escaping the fact that mobile devices and laptops are an integral part of modern living; but they come at a cost.  More and more you can see people hunched over with eyes glued to mobile devices.

For every 2.5cm of forward head shift, there is a doubling of pressure on the neck.  Any wonder that we now have the new phenomenon, Tech Neck.

Commit to maintaining good posture when using mobile phones.  When young children are playing on iPads, encourage them to lie on their tummy with the device on the floor (rather than sitting with the device on their lap).  This way the neck is not stooped forward.

To compensate for the inevitable poor posture, do extension exercises using foam rollers or Swiss balls, so your spine can stretch back regularly.

5. Do you sit on your wallet or overload your handbag?

Having your wallet in the back pocket is fine….as long as you’re not sitting on it.  The twist this creates in the pelvis can be a trigger for low back pain.

Do you really need all that stuff in your handbag?  Hand bags can be surprisingly heavy and weigh you down through your neck and shoulders.  The bigger the bag, the more likely you are to fill it with….stuff.

6. Stay hydrated

Our body and brain are composed of 70% water, so we need to replenish regularly.

For every kilogram of body weight, you should be consuming 30ml of fresh water.  That means, if you weight 100kg, you should drink 3litres of water each day.  If the weather is particularly warm or you are exercising, the amount of water you drink needs to increase even more.

7. Look after your mental health

While technology may be the cause of stress on many occasions, you can use technology to help you be more mindful and relax.

An app that we recommend is Smiling Mind.  Download the app and take 10min out of each day to de-stress.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.