Real Life Chiropractic

Lifestyle practices to help support a healthy back.

There are countless ways to support a healthy back and we couldn’t even begin to name them all. That being said, I have listed a few here in this post. It can be overwhelming to implement all of these ideas all at once. So just start with one or two and move on to more as you are comfortable.

If there is an exercise that you want to do, make sure that the movement in the exercise is done with no pain! If there is pain at any point during your range of motion (and you’re not on pain meds), you are damaging tissues. The issue with pain meds is that you have no idea if you’re damaging tissues during a movement because your body has been blocked from communicating it. First thing, stop the exercise or modify it to be comfortable and without pain.

1. Stop drinking so much caffeine or get rid of it entirely. 

Caffeine concentrates in the kidneys and can imbalance them. When the kidneys are not functioning optimally, they can refer pain to the lower back. If an addiction to caffeine exists, it is important to get off of it slowly to lessen affects of rebound headaches.

2. Reduce stress. 

If we are in chronic stress, then our adrenal glands are being overworked and can also become imbalanced which can negatively influence the kidneys as well. This can also refer pain to the lower back. Reducing stress by taking more time for yourself, grounding barefoot on the grass daily, practicing deep breathing, and doing things that you love to do every day works wonders in healing the body.

3. Sit on the edge of your seat. 

Sitting on the edge of your seat often causes your knees to be lower than your hips which helps to keep the curve in your lower back present. It also helps you to have better posture as you’re firing your back muscles to keep yourself upright. This supports the lower back and back against injury due to poor posture. Slouching or leaning back in your chair causes your muscles to relax and not support your back and also leaves you more prone to injury when getting out of the seat.

4. Intake good sources of minerals.

Calcium and magnesium are excellent minerals to keep your muscles from spasming and injuring. Low amounts of calcium and magnesium in the blood and tissues will cause your body to leech it from your bones. Thereby, causing your bones to become unstable and lose their density among other things.

Iron is also an excellent mineral as it’s important for building red blood cells to bring oxygen to your muscles and tissues. It’s also important for collagen formation.

5. Eat protein.

Protein is important for healing, maintaining, and strengthening bones, ligaments, muscles and soft tissues. A good rule of thumb is to eat about 0.8 to 1 g of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. To get an idea of about how much protein you need, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to put it into kilograms. 

6. Eat more key vitamins.

Vitamin D3 is important for absorbing calcium into the bones. Without sufficient vitamin D levels our bones can be made thin, misshapen, or even brittle. Vitamin D actually functions more like a hormone than a vitamin. It’s uses in the body are practically endless!

Vitamin K2 is also very important to bring calcium into the bones and into the tissues for them to utilize it. Butter from grass-fed cows is a great source of both vitamins D3 and K2.

Vitamin C is also important for collagen formation and aids in supporting the back.

Vitamin B12 is also important for building the bones and supports the bone marrow to produce red blood cells.

7. Lifting the sky.

A Qigong exercise is specifically designed to heal the lower back and also supports it from further injury.

To do this stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your hands to your sides. Begin by straightening out your arms in front of your pelvis palms down with the fingers pointing to each other. While keeping your eyes on your hands the whole time, inhale through your nose while bringing your arms from that position up and over your head. While at the top, with your feet still flat on the floor, gently push up as if you are pushing up the sky (during this time you can hold your breath for a second or two). 

Then, while sighing your breath out your mouth, bring your arms out to your sides, palms down and bring your arms back to the resting position. Sighing as you exhale stimulates your vagus nerve and helps to relax your body even further. Repeat this process for the next breath and so on for approximately 5 minutes.

The slower this exercise is done, while slowing down the breathing, the more energy is moved within the body. While doing this exercise or any other Qigong exercise, your hands may feel warm fairly quickly and your head more alert. This is because you were increasing circulation throughout your body, and enhancing oxygenation to your brain and all your cells. There are many other health benefits from doing Qigong and there are many other exercises that you can do with it as well! Let me know how Qigong has helped you if you have tried it!

8. Cat-cow.

This is a common exercise done to strengthen and stretch your core muscles.

To do this exercise go on your hands and knees on the floor with your knees and hands about shoulder width apart. When you inhale through your nose bring your head down while you arch your spine upward like a cat as if a string is pulling your spine upward. While you exhale the breath out your mouth, bring your spine back down and flat while sticking out your buttocks and pulling your shoulder blades close together while your head is looking up in front of you. Repeat with each breath for about 5 minutes.

9. Try not to sit with your legs crossed.

If you do, make sure you switch to the other leg giving each leg approximately the same amount of time it is crossed. If you sit with one leg crossed for extended periods of time, you run into a higher chance of injury to your lower back due to over compensation of muscle firing on that one side.

10. Take your wallet out of your back pocket.

Anything in the back pocket of your trousers will cause your pelvic bones to become imbalanced and or misaligned. If your pelvis is misaligned or the musculature is tight more on one side, your lower back often can be injured as well.

11. Vacuum with both hands.

A common injury often comes from twisting the lower spine. While vacuuming hold the vacuum handle with both hands while you vacuum directly in front of you so that your spine doesn’t twist. By doing this you keep your spine in the neutral position and more supported.

12. Wash dishes with your hips and knees bent.

This also keeps your back in neutral position and is less prone to injury.

13. Squats.

Whether you’re performing squats as an exercise, or squatting down to pick up something, always do so with good posture! Squats as an exercise is wonderful at strengthening your back muscles as well as your legs and buttocks. Although, if you notice someone else squatting down and you see their backside begin to tuck underneath themselves, that’s when the lower back becomes unstable. To avoid instability, squat down only to right before that point of when your backside begins to tuck underneath you and then go back up.

The lower back was made for axial loading, not for hunching or bending forward and twisting movements.

14. Suck your bellybutton in towards your spine.

Bringing your bellybutton in and toward your spine works your transverse abdominus muscles and greatly helps to support your lower back. A few repetitions of this can easily be done while sitting in your car at a stoplight or driving down the road.

15. Rowing exercises.

This can be done with an actual rowing machine at the gym, or with a band attached to the wall. Keep your core muscles tight while pulling back and at the end of the pull-back, cinch your shoulder blades as close together as you can.

This exercise tightens the rhomboid Muscles between your shoulder blades, among others, to pull them backwards thereby pulling your shoulders back giving you better posture in your upper body.

16. Pectoralis major stretches.

Bring one arm to the square as if raising your hand, put it against the corner of the wall and turn your whole body the opposite direction. You will feel a stretch in your peck muscle. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and repeat with the other arm.

This stretch will help to relax your chest and by so doing aiding your shoulders going back. You can know if your peck muscles are tight, if while standing and at rest, the palms of your hands face behind you. Your pecks are relaxed if your palms are facing your sides.

17. Chin retraction exercises.

While your head is in neutral position bring your head straight back and hold for a couple of seconds being conscious of not extending your head backwards. Then relax and repeat 5 to 10 times. You know if you’re extending your head back if your chin is going up from your original position. Your head ought to stay in the neutral position looking straight ahead and while not lowering your chin or raising it, bring your head straight back.

This exercise works the muscles in front of your neck vertebrae, and assess and bringing the curve back in your neck bringing you better posture. This is a wonderful exercise to do if you notice your head jutting forward past your shoulders.

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