Spinal Hygiene – Flossing for Your Backbone
Video by Nick Hawkes
Most people can deal with and work around the pain from a shoulder, knee or ankle injury. But when it comes to the spine, pain is more often than not debilitating. Many spinal issues, however, can be treated or prevented altogether with very minimal daily maintenance called ‘spinal hygiene’. Think of it like flossing your teeth to prevent cavities and gum disease. The same approach can work for your spine to prevent stiffness, pain and the other problems that come along with those things.
Bones in the Spine
Your spine has 24 moveable vertebrae – 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, and 5 lumbar. Usually people think about stabilizing the spine to protect it but stabilizing from bracing is different from mobility (or immobility). Each of the joints of the spine needs to be able to move separately and independently of the others. There are two reasons this is important.
Functions of the Spine
One is because of all the nerves and roots that are intertwined within and through the spine. These branch out into other parts of the body so immobility and improper function in the spine can surface as pain and problems in other areas like the hips.
The other is that all of your organs get their nutrients through the spine. Think of it as a tree with the trunk (your spine) feeding all the branches (your organs and other parts of the body). If it’s not working like it’s supposed to then it’s not supplying your organs with what you need which can lead to an array of problems you don’t ever want to have to deal with.
Spinal Hygiene Routine
In the video, Coach Nick will take you through a daily spinal hygiene routine – including flexion, extension, rotation and translation – that only takes a few minutes to get your vertebrae moving from the cervical region down to your lumbar.
This is a great routine to get in tune with your body. Perform it with deliberate, intentional movement and make note of where you’re feeling tight or restricted. You might need to look in the mirror for some of these to get the true picture of your abilities. Give it a try and reach out with any questions about improving any problem areas you find!