The Great German physical trainer and inventor of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, said – “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it’s completely flexible at 60, you are young.” This is food for thought! What does that actually mean for us? Let’s delve deeper…
But before doing so, we will shift gears for a second here and consider this well-established fact of behavioral science – Awareness Influences Behavior. That’s why, for most of us, the power of understanding the ‘WHY’, helps tremendously in implementing the ‘HOW’. With that in mind, let’s begin looking at why spine health is paramount for your well being. Subsequently, we will look at how to take charge of your spinal health and strength.
Why you should care about your spine? Spine-health impacts how well and how long you live. It also impacts how young you feel. As the key organ of the musculoskeletal system, its job is to provide structural support and help with all types of movement like standing, sitting, walking, bending, and twisting. Further, the spine protects the spinal cord and nerve roots with its long column of bones AKA Vertebrae. The spinal cord and the brain make up your nervous system – your CPU. Since nerve signals are transmitted from the brain to different parts of the body via the spinal cord, it’s important to protect the spine which is the protector of the spinal cord.
So, what we can the average person do to enhance their spine health?
First, let’s start with building a good framework. Here are ten key areas to focus on for spine health-
- DIET – Eat an anti-inflammatory diet to safeguard against inflammation. Also, make sure you get adequate calcium and Vitamin D for a strong spine.
- POSTURE – Maintain good posture. Stand straight, slouch no more, and stretch often.
- WEIGHT – Maintain a healthy weight as excess pounds put pressure on your back.
- SLEEP POSITION – Tailor your sleep position to support the natural curves of the back. These curves exist as shock absorbers and protect your spine from injury.
- MATTRESS & PILLOWS – Ensure your mattress is working for your sleep position. Also, check your pillows and replace them if they have lost form.
- LIFT – Lift safely, ensuring proper form and technique when lifting. Hold objects close to the body, bend knees, and lift keeping your back straight. Use help when necessary.
- BEND – Always bend from the knees and not the waist when working around the house or outdoors.
- MOVE – Take frequent breaks to get up, walk and stretch when sitting for long hours.
- QUIT – Quit smoking as it causes the breakdown of spinal discs. Nicotine hurts the regeneration of disc cells and muscles that support the spine.
- EXERCISE – Last but not least – incorporate exercises that strengthen the muscles around the spine (think weight training and resistance training) and exercises that improve flexibility.
While the above recommendations can help build a great foundation and totally merit our attention, we wonder if there is something else that will help us strengthen our spine and make the above steps a little easier to achieve. A little easier to better our posture, help us lose weight, and improve flexibility. And certainly there is! The clues lie in nature among the cats, cows, snakes, and trees. You are probably starting to get the theme here. Yes, I’m referring to the following yoga poses AKA asanas-
- Tadasana AKA The Palm Tree Pose
- Marjaryasana/Bitilasana AKA The Cat Cow Pose
- Bhujangasana AKA The Cobra pose
These are three powerful asanas specifically helpful in strengthening the spine. The best part is you need not be a yogi to get these done. These are beginner-friendly and easy but powerful asanas. I’m no yogi, but I get these done in 5-7 minutes a day, with ten repetitions each, and have felt a tremendous difference in my posture and strength overall. That’s why I call it my super spine protocol! Let’s take a closer look.
The Palm Tree Pose
- This is a simple asana that helps with improving posture and balance.
- Also helps with strengthening your pelvic floor, back muscles and hamstrings
- It improves circulation and relieves sciatica discomfort.
The Cat-Cow Pose
- Another great one for improving posture, balance and coordination.
- It’s great stretch for the abdomen, neck and back.
- Because it massages and stimulates the kidneys and the adrenal glands, it’s a gentle way to fire up the fat burning.
- It’s a balancing asana for stress relief and back pain relief.
The Cobra Pose
- Excellent for relieving lower back pain
- It’s another great one for strengthening the spine and improving posture.
- It’s also an amazing asana for boosting circulation and improving digestion
- Known to benefit the reproductive system and help with menstrual irregularities.
These asanas look like simple stretches, but when done right and consistently, they offer immense benefit to the spine and beyond. All it takes is to allocate 5-7 minutes out of your schedule!
Your spine is your lifeline! Take good care of it, and it will take care of you for life!