Even after you have experienced the benefits of chiropractic care, it is important for you to continue practicing safe and healthy habits so that you can stay on the move —whether lifting, working, playing, or simply doing routine daily activities. Even if you have chronic spinal problems or underlying conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, or disc injuries, you can perform activities more easily by practicing basic self-care measures as instructed by your Doctor. A self-care program should include proper body mechanics, spinal self-care, and specific exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles and increase range of movement and flexibility. The following tips can lead you on your way to taking better care of your spine.
Overall Physical Activity
If you know that you are going to be working or playing for a while, make sure that you are adequately stretched out and warmed up. Even if it's something light like gardening or just pushing your child on a bike, it's easy to pull something if you're not warmed up.
Resting or Sleeping
- If you are going to nap or watch TV in bed, make sure that you are in a supportive position.
- Buy a firm mattress that keeps the spine aligned and supports the spinal curvatures.
- The best sleeping positions are on your back or side - sleeping on your stomach can cause additional strain on the neck and back.
- A pillow can be placed under the knees when lying on your back to take pressure off of the lower back.
- Hug a fluffy pillow at your chest to keep the shoulders more open during the night
- Sleep with a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side
- Lying down all the time when any part of your back is aggravated makes it worse
Standing and Walking
- Make sure that you keep your chin up and don't slouch.
- Standing for long periods can cause increased spinal pressure. When standing for extended periods, rest one foot on a small stool to maintain spinal curvature and relieve pressure.
- If you know that you are going to be standing for a long period of time, make sure that you wear comfortable shoes.
- High-heeled shoes throw the natural curves out of alignment when standing or walking. Low-heeled shoes may help by maintaining spinal curvatures and cushioning your weight.
- When you sit for long periods, make sure to get up and stretch every 20 minutes.
- Sit with your back against the chair, feet firmly on the floor with knees at a 90 degree angle.
- Do not cross your legs.
- No slouching.
- Use chairs that promote good posture and support your back.
- Position adjustable seating so your knees are level with your hips, even in the car.
- Rolling up a towel or placing a lumbar or low back support cushion in the lower portion of your back may help to support your lumbar curve.
- In the car, sitting too far away from the steering wheel while driving may increase stress to the neck and back.
- When working at a desk, try to avoid looking down at your computer screen. It should be at eye level.
Bending and Lifting
- Bending forward with the legs straight causes a loss of the three natural spinal curves and puts undue stress on the lower portion of your back.
- Bending forward for long periods can cause increased spinal pressure.
- When bending forward, keep your back straight while bending at the knees and hips.
- Lifting and bending forward at the same time puts a great strain on the muscles and increases the pressure inside the discs.
- When lifting, keep your spine straight while using your legs to do the brunt of the work.
- Hold the objects being lifted close to your body.
- Avoid lifting anything you know is too heavy.
- When turning, use your feet to make the turns, not your back. The shape of the vertebrae do not allow the joints of the spine to twist easily. Imagine your body as being one continuous unit from your shoulders to your hips.
- Do not stretch your arms or back for something beyond your normal reach.
- Move your body close to the item you are reaching for.
- A ladder or stool should be used to reach items above your head.
- A tool called a “reacher” can be used to grab hard-to-reach items.
- Ask for help if the item is heavy or you don't feel you can reach it yourself.
Talking On The Telephone
- If you use the telephone for a long period of time, get a speaker or headset
- Avoid cradling the phone between your neck and your shoulder as this could cause you to damage the muscles or ver tebrae in that area.