Spinal Health Week

By http://www.spinalhealthweek.ca/

Your spine is important to your daily health.

In addition to 24 bone joints that allow the body to bend and move, your spine is also home to your spinal cord which effectively connects all of the organs, muscles and other tissues to the brain.  Without a healthy spine, not only might you have trouble moving, your nerve connections to the brain may also become impaired and that means unnecessary pain.

There are many things you can do to lead a healthier lifestyle and prevent injury to the spine.  BC’s chiropractors put together some helpful tips and advice to keep your spine in shape:

At Home

Our home is our castle and the place where we feel most comfortable. Be mindful of the following tips when you go about your daily living:

  • Get a good night sleep and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Pain during the night could be a sign that you need a new mattress or more often than not, points to an underlying spine condition.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Proper nutrition will help you maintain a healthy body weight that in turn will benefit your spine. Extra weight can cause added tension and stress on your joints.
  • Even the garden can present risks. When raking or digging, switch up your hands. Be careful if you need to reach or haul a heavy bag of garden clippings – Think Twice, Lift Once.
  • When it is time for spring cleaning, be thoughtful about lifting boxes and items. It never hurts to ask for help and your back will thank you.
  • Reduce stress as much as possible. Take the dog for a walk, kick a soccer ball around with friends or simply read a book.
  • Watch out for hazards in your home such as loose carpets, objects in the hallways or slick surfaces that can cause trips and falls, especially in seniors – Safety Superheroes.
  • Spine stretches and exercises can help you stay mobile. Ask Dr. Veronica Hewstan at Arbutus Physiotherapy & Health Centre for examples.

At Work / School

Whether you work in an office or at a construction site, safety on the job is vital to ensuring good health. Be sure to keep these tips in mind as you go about your workplace duties:

  • Think Twice, Lift Once – Any item that requires transport has the potential to cause injury to your spine. Take a moment to plan any lifts that you are required to make.
  • If you find yourself seated or standing for long periods of time, be sure to move and stretch frequently. Take short walks every few hours.
  • Repetitive strain injuries are far too common on the job. If you are involved in an activity that requires repeat movement such as shoveling, try switching up your hands to give the muscles on one side of your body a break.
  • Consider investing in ergonomic equipment such as an adjustable chair or wireless keyboard and mouse.
  • Students need to be mindful as well. When it comes to your backpack – Pack it Light, Wear it Right.

At Play

Participating in sports and other physical activities enriches our lives and is good exercise for our bodies. Keep these tips in mind when you partake in any activity:

  • Warm up before you get started with some stretches. This allows your muscles to prepare for the task ahead. Don’t forget to cool down when you’re finished as well.
  • If you need to carry equipment such as golf clubs or ski gear, be careful when lifting it from your vehicle and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Don’t overdo it. Sometimes pain doesn’t necessarily mean gain. Listen to your body and trust it to know your limits.
  • Stay hydrated. The human body is roughly 60% water so it makes sense that we operate best when we’ve had plenty to drink.
  • Have fun! Exercise is essential to good health and provides significant benefit to your spine.

On the Go

Trains, planes and automobiles are an essential part of vacations, family get-togethers and of course, work. No matter how you decide to get from point A to point B, be sure to keep these tips in mind the next time you commute:

  • During long travel times by car, pull over to rest stops to let yourself and your passengers stretch their legs. If you’re travelling by plane, take a stroll down the aisles and get moving whenever possible.
  • Watch that luggage! Lifting and carrying heavy suitcases can put a huge strain on your back. Be sure to Think Twice, Lift Once and invest in luggage with wheels if possible. Backpacks are helpful too but be sure to Pack it Light and Wear it Right.
  • Travelling and commuting can be stressful. Try to relax and focus on the great vacation that awaits, or the wonderful time you already had.
  • If you are involved in a car crash, consider all of your recovery options. Symptoms may take a few days to a week to appear. It is important to see Dr. Veronica Hewstan as soon as possible to support your recovery.

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Posted by Sandy Wilson, BScPT

Arbutus Physiotherapy & Health Centre is owned and operated by Sandy Wilson, BScPT. Sandy is a registered member of the Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia. Sandy is a mother of two and an avid runner and triathlete.

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