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flossIt’s time to brush and floss your spine. Sound crazy? It makes perfect sense……

We have all been educated to regularly care for most of our body parts for a lifetime of better health. We know it is smart to practice good dental hygiene, get our eyes checked, monitor blood pressure, get regular medical checkups, etc. The one area of our body that has not received that same attention is the spine.

Why is the spine so important?

The spine is the main structural support system in the body. It protects the spinal cord and spinal nerves which are part of the electrical control system of the body. Spinal function is involved in almost every activity we perform on a daily basis. The health of the spine has a direct relationship to the overall health of the body.

Unfortunately most people only think about their spine in a time of “crisis” and ignore it the rest of the time. It’s time we change this practice. Ignoring spinal hygiene can lead to irreversible damage that could have been prevented.

A poor functioning spine does not always cause immediate pain. Instead, it can lead to other issues like poor sleep quality, digestive problems, fatigue and a decreased immune system. This can happen in children and adults.

The first rule of spinal hygiene is to get the spine checked on a regular basis to make sure it is functioning properly. This goes for kids too! A properly functioning spine is necessary in EVERY stage of life. Children and adults need to be getting checked, and adjusted when necessary, on a regular basis to insure better health. Get checked at least once a month to help make sure you are doing as well as possible.

In addition to regular Chiropractic checkups, here are a few strategies to help you have excellent spinal hygiene:

1) Move more than you sit. Prolonged sitting in the new smoking. It destroys your health and places undue stress on the spine which will lead to spinal degeneration.

2) Improve your posture. Posture has a direct effect on our health. Poor posture can lead to many different health problems such as shallow breathing, heartburn and negative emotions. Standing more upright is important. Avoid sitting in a slouched forward position. Avoid laying on the couch or bed with your head propped up on pillows.

3) Drink more water. Water is important for the spine, it helps keep the discs (cushions between the spinal bones) hydrated.

4) Reduce inflammatory foods such as sugar. Inflammatory foods can lead to degeneration in the spine.

5) Stop smoking. Smoking dehydrates the tissues in the spine.

6) Get better sleep. Sleeping 7-9 hours a day helps the spine heal from daily trauma. Sleep on your side or back with the neck in a neutral position. When on your side place a small pillow between your knees, when on your back place a small pillow behind your knees.

7) Exercise daily. Walking 20-30 minutes a day is one of the best things you can do to help keep the spine flexible.

8) Be smart when lifting. Just because you can lift something heavy by yourself doesn’t mean you should!

9) Watch out for prolonged head down posture while looking down at electronic devices. This includes kids and adults.

10) Pain is NOT normal. If you have pain or dysfunction in the spine/pelvis that lasts more than two days you need a Chiropractic checkup.

11) Maintain an ideal weight. Excess weight is detrimental to the health of the spine.

12) Watch your stress. Prolonged emotional stress will cause a rigid spine.

While this is not a complete list of every possible thing you could do to improve spinal hygiene, it’s a great start.

Practicing good spinal hygiene will not only help you minimize “crisis” situations, it will give you a better chance to express improved health and vitality in every stage of life!